ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Five months after its unveiling, Spirit Airlines is now serving Albuquerque travelers with a new way to get to Las Vegas, Nevada. A so-called budget air carrier, Spirit made its first flight to and from the Albuquerque Sunport this morning.

Spirit is the newest airline to join the Albuquerque Sunport since 2016. So far, they’ve promised to offer daily, non-stop service to the “Entertainment Capital of the World.”

According to Sunport officials, Spirit is currently scheduling its departing flight from Las Vegas to Albuquerque to take off at 7:30 a.m., arriving in Las Vegas at 10 a.m. That airplane will then turn around within 50 minutes, taking off from Albuquerque at 10:50 a.m. to return to Las Vegas by 11:25 a.m. Spirit will be using Airbus A320 planes for the route.

Albuquerque officials are positioning the flight as a good way to connect to other locations around the U.S. and beyond the nation’s southern border. The airline has several destinations in Mexico, Central American countries, the Caribbean and a few countries in South America.

“This is an exciting milestone for the Sunport,” said Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller of Spirit’s new service. “The new airline isn’t just a new connection to and from the Duke City, it’s a sign of our continued growth and of new opportunities for New Mexicans, for tourism, and our economic recovery.”

Spirit’s presence fills a void at the Sunport left by another low-cost air carrier, Allegiant Air. In May 2022, Allegiant ended service out of ABQ, having previously offered flights to Las Vegas, Austin and Los Angeles before the COVID-19 upended the airline industry.

In March, Spirit’s Communications Director Erik Hofmeyer said it is the airlines intention to “stay for the long run and grow.” Hofmeyer also said the air carrier hopes “Vegas is just the beginning” for non-stop options in New Mexico.

In addition to launching service Wednesday, Spirit also gave a couple flyers a free trip, hotel and shopping spree. They also donated of $20,000 to an Albuquerque non-profit, Mandy’s Farm. That organization helps people with developmental disabilities in areas including learning life skills, job placement and more.

Spirit Airlines could face some level of changes in the near future amid a possible acquisition by a competing budget airline. JetBlue, which offers flights from the Sunport to New York City, is seeking approval from federal regulators to buy Spirit for $3.8 billion. It’s unclear how any acquisition could affect Albuquerque flights.