Spirit CEO urges employees, passengers to get Covid shots, but says the airline has no mandate

Spirit Airlines CEO Ted Christie advised CNBC on Friday that he is urging all passengers and workers to get Covid pictures, despite the fact that the low-cost provider has no plans to implement vaccine necessities.

“Rising case counts with regard to the delta variant obviously is a concern for everybody,” Christie mentioned on “Squawk Box.” The reply to that, we consider, is to get your vaccine, ensure you get on the market and get vaccinated.”

Christie said the company does not have the authority to mandate vaccines for travelers, saying that he believes it’s going to be a “federal query.” Spirit, however, is still “strongly encouraging” employees to get vaccinated and use facial coverings, he said.

The CEO said Spirit implemented facial covering requirements since early in the pandemic, which remain in place today as the highly contagious delta variant drives the latest surge in Covid cases across the United States. Even though some pandemic-based restrictions are slowly returning, Christie said the “market remains to be open” with airlines able to operate without limitations on travel.

Spirit on Wednesday reported an adjusted second-quarter loss of 34 cents per share. That was much narrower than the 81-cent loss analysts had expected. Revenue of $859 million — a decrease of about 15% compared with the second quarter of 2019 before the pandemic — was also better than expectations. The budget airline said it ended the second quarter of this year with $2.2 billion in unrestricted cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investment securities and liquidity.

“In June 2021, we recorded our first month with adjusted web earnings since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Christie said in the company’s quarterly results press release. The Florida-based airline saw improved demand in its domestic and overseas markets as the second quarter progressed.

Spirit operates flights in the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Since the starting of the pandemic, leisure site visitors has led the restoration and Spirit is a leisure-based airline, so we’re centered totally on massive leisure locations … and that site visitors has actually rebounded fairly rapidly. We’ve had a really, very busy summer time,” Christie told CNBC. 

Spirit announced early last month plans to expand into Miami International Airport later this year, adding flights to 30 cities, including New York, Cleveland and Denver. Others include service to Cali and Medellin, Colombia, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Spirit already flies out of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, about 25 miles north of Miami international.

Spirit, together with American AirlinesDelta Air Lines and United Airlines, not too long ago announced plans to resume hiring and add extra pilots to sustain with what executives expect to be robust demand next year. 

While the pandemic led airlines to halt hiring plans and encourage thousands of employees to take buyouts, leaves of absence and other voluntary options, Christie said Spirit did not furlough any of its front-line staff.

“We have been in a position to preserve everyone intact, which put us in a very good place to make the most of the rebound we have seen of late. And we’re managing our value construction very nicely I consider,” Christie mentioned.

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