Spirit Airlines CEO departing

Spirit Airlines CEO departing
© Wikimedia Commons

Spirit Airlines CEO Ben Baldanza is leaving the company after 10 years at the helm of the low-cost carrier that has developed a reputation for charging passengers hefty fees after they purchase cheap flights, The Associated Press reports

Baldanza is being replaced by former AirTran Airways CEO Robert Fornaro, who led the latter company from 2007 until its 2011 merger with Southwest Airlines, according to the report. 

Baldanza cast the decision to part ways with Spirit Airlines as a mutual decision. 

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"Following the tremendous growth and success of Spirit over the last 10 years, the board and I have concluded that this is the right time to implement an orderly succession plan," he said in a statement, according to the AP report.

Spirit has a reputation for charging passengers fees for services that are free on most other airlines, such as carrying on small pieces of luggage, and tweaking the federal government about fare advertising rules that require airlines to include government-mandated fees in flight ticket quotes.

The airline has defended itself from criticism of the fee structure by describing the services as à la carte options that empower passengers to have more choices about what they want to pay for when they fly.  

Spirit also a history of referencing controversial political events in its online advertising. The company offered a 9-9-9 sale during the 2012 presidential election that was named after former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain's tax plan that year. 

Spirit later had a “binder full of sales,” referring to a debate comment from 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney that made reference to reviewing "whole binders full of women" for positions in his Cabinet when he was governor of Massachusetts.