Ted Christie, CEO of Spirit Airlines, told CNBC on Friday that he is urging all passengers and employees to get Covid vaccinations even though the low-cost airline has no plans to implement vaccine requirements.
“Increasing case numbers in relation to the Delta variant are obviously a concern for everyone,” Christie said in the “Squawk Box”. The answer, we think, is to get your vaccine, make sure you go out and get vaccinated. “
Christie said the company has no authority to prescribe vaccines for travelers and said he believes it will be a “federal issue.” However, Spirit still “strongly” encourages employees to get vaccinated and wear face covers, he said.
The CEO said that Spirit has implemented face covering requirements since the pandemic began and continues to this day as the highly contagious Delta variant is fueling the recent surge in Covid cases in the United States. Although some pandemic-based restrictions are slowly returning, Christie said the “market is still open” and airlines can operate without travel restrictions.
Spirit reported an adjusted loss of 34 cents per share for the second quarter on Wednesday. That was much closer than the 81-cent loss analysts had expected. Sales of $ 859 million – a decrease of about 15% compared to the pre-pandemic second quarter of 2019 – were also better than expected. The low-cost carrier said it closed the second quarter of this year with $ 2.2 billion in unrestricted cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments and liquidity.
“June 2021 was our first month of adjusted net earnings since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Christie said in the company’s press release on the quarterly results. The Florida-based airline saw increased demand in its domestic and overseas markets during the second quarter.
Spirit operates flights in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, recreational traffic has spearheaded recovery and Spirit is a recreational airline, so we’re mostly focusing on big vacation destinations … and that traffic has really recovered pretty quickly. We had a very, very busy summer, “Christie told CNBC.
Spirit announced plans early last month to expand to Miami International Airport later this year, adding flights to 30 cities, including New York, Cleveland and Denver. Others include services to Cali and Medellin, Colombia, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Spirit already flies out of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, approximately 25 miles north of Miami International.
Spirit, along with American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines, recently announced plans to resume hiring and hire more pilots to keep pace with the robust demand anticipated by executives over the next year.
While the pandemic caused airlines to suspend hiring plans and encourage thousands of employees to buy-ups, leave and other volunteer options, Christie said Spirit had not put any of its frontline workers on leave.
“We’ve been able to keep everyone intact, which has put us in a good position to benefit from the rebound we’ve seen lately. And we are managing our cost structure very well, in my opinion,” said Christie .