How LCCs Are Leading The Recovery For The U.S. 'Medium 4' Airlines

Credit: Frontier Airlines

With Aviation Week’s MRO Americas happening in Atlanta April 18-20, this week’s FlightFriday again looks at the U.S. market.

Last week the focus was on the U.S. "Big 4"American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines—and this week we look at the “Medium 4,” the next four U.S. operators in terms of number of scheduled movements.

Again, we look at the number of flights operated compared to the equivalent month in 2019 as our guide.


Alaska Airlines: Alaska only recently passed the 100% comparative level of flights, even though in 2023 they have a fleet that is slightly higher than the equivalent month in 2019.

Frontier Airlines: Frontier has operated more flights than the equivalent month in 2019 since March 2021 and is currently operating at nearly 150% of the equivalent month in 2019. However, the Frontier fleet has grown from around 100 in 2019 to an average of nearly 130 in 2023, so it should be expected that its numbers should be higher.

JetBlue Airways: JetBlue has been operating at a near-2019 level since late 2022, even with a slightly enlarged fleet when compared to 2019.

Spirit Airlines: Spirit has been at equivalent levels since summer 2021 and is currently operating at 130% of 2019 levels. The airline has a fleet that is around 45% larger than in 2019, so it is to be expected.

An interesting find is the success of the LCCs, with both Frontier and Spirit having larger fleets and operating more flights. The LCCs’ gain seems to have come at the expense of the U.S. regional feeder network.

This was put together using Aviation Week’s Tracked Aircraft Utilization tool.

Stay up to date with all the latest news from MRO Americas 2023. 

Daniel Williams

Based in the UK, Daniel is the Manager of Fleet, Flight and Forecast data for Aviation Week Network. Prior to joining Aviation Week in 2017, Daniel held a number of industry positions analyzing fleet data.