Spirit to connect Nashville to NYC

Low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines has rescinded its commitment to bring 345 jobs to Williamson County.

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development has confirmed to the Post that Spirit no longer intends to relocate its 24/7 operational control center from South Florida to Cool Springs. The news, which was first reported by the Nashville Business Journal, comes almost exactly a month after Spirit CEO Ted Christie said on an earnings conference call with investors that he expects Spirit to lead most other U.S. carriers to a full financial recovery from the pandemic economy.

The carrier, which added Nashville International Airport to its route network in November 2019, announced in February 2020 that it planned to spend $11.3 million on its Franklin expansion, a move that was to involve leasing 49,000 square feet of office space at 9009 Carothers Parkway, moving 240 existing jobs from Florida and adding another 100 jobs over five years.

The new hires were to continue a hiring trend that Christie touted as one of several factors gradually restoring Spirit to full utilization when addressing the likes of JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, Barclays and others on the morning of April 22. In addition to hiring, he also cited guest satisfaction and efficient business operations as positioning the company for a bright near future, “which gives me confidence that we will be among the first U.S. carriers to reach sustained profitability.”

Spirit's change of heart comes after Williamson County, which is home to about a quarter of Tennessee's Inc. 5000 companies, rang up several big ECD wins. The county has of late welcomed the California-born, $220 million-per-year Educational Media Foundation and its K-LOVE radio station, which has promised 320 jobs. In April, Advanced Correctional Healthcare also announced the relocation of its own headquarters and 58 jobs from Illinois to Franklin with a $2.5 million investment in its new home at 720 Cool Springs Blvd. That same office park also is set to receive behavioral health care firm Landmark Recovery and its 350 jobs.

The state had already approved a $3 million jobs grant for Spirit — the eighth-busiest airline by total passengers at BNA going into the pandemic — back in March 2020. The grant has reportedly been recovered.

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