The Department of Transportation (DOT) in the USA has a rule that provides protection for passengers stuck on the tarmac for domestic flights. The rule is that airlines must not force passengers to remain on the aircraft for more than three hours. Exceptions are when it would be too disruptive to return to the gate or for security or safety reasons. The rule was established after several flights forced passengers to endure sitting on the tarmac with no toilets, food, or drink for extended periods of time. In 2011, American Eagle was fined $900,000 ($27,500 per passenger) for several lengthy tarmac delays. The rules have had one apparently unintended but yet easily foreseeable consequence of increased flight cancelations if there is a risk of a three-hour delay. In 2012, a domestic flight from the east to the west coast could expect to generate revenues upward of $100,000, assuming 250 passengers. However a $27,500 fine per customer for a delay would impose a penalty of $6.9 million. It is this risk-to-reward ratio being out of balance that sometimes causes airlines to cancel fights (which there is no penalty for) and ultimately force what would be a three-hour delay into a much longer delay for the passengers.
Spirit has committed to ordering many new planes so the primary strategic decision for the company is what cities and countries to add to its destination list. How many flights per day should be offered to various cities from various other cities? Should Spirit expand to more Latin American and South American countries and which ones would be best when? To go along with expansion, the company needs both a marketing plan and a human resources plan to support growth. Spirit is actually doing so well financially that the firm could, if desired, seek to acquire another airline, perhaps an airline based in Mexico or Brazil. And there is no reason why Spirit could not penetrate Canada and even the USA with more flights to more cities.