Spirit Airlines is based in Miramar, Fla., and operates 185 flights daily to 36 cities including Aruba, Atlanta, Atlantic City, Boston, Cancun, Chicago, Detroit, Fort Myers, Guatemala City, Las Vegas, Lima, Los Angeles, Managua, Montego Bay, Myrtle Beach, Nassau, New York, Orlando, Port-au-Prince, San Jose, San Salvador, Santo Domingo, Tampa, Washington D.C. and. during the winter only, West Palm Beach. Ned Hornfeld founded the airline in 1980 as Detroit-based vacation tour operator called Charter One that provided travel packages to Atlantic City, Las Vegas and the Bahamas. In 1992, the company bought jets and changed its named to Spirit Airlines. The following year, Spirit began flying to Florida cities, an affiliation that would culminate in December 1999 when it moved its headquarters from Detroit to Miramar. Unlike other airlines, the firm has strived to remain privately owned. In 2004, it raised $125 million in equity by selling a majority stake to investors led by Oaktree Capital Management, a Los Angeles venture capital fund that later added another $100 million to the coffers. That helped the company begin its linchpin project of replacing its entire fleet of MD-80s with the more cost-efficient Airbus planes. Oaktree continues to be a major investor, but control switched over in July 2006 to another private equity firm from Phoenix, Indigo Partners LLC, run by the former chairman of America West Airlines, William Franke. Spirit parlayed rock-bottom fares and huge increases in short-haul service to Latin America and the Caribbean to become the busiest airline at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, accounting for 20 percent of its passengers in 2007. But severe, controversial cost cutting measures called the Ultra Low Cost Carrier approach (including charging passengers to check baggage) led to a significant hike in customer complaints about understaffing, long lines and cancelled flights in 2007. At the same time, destinations appealing to South Florida's diverse population and promotions like the $9 fare boosted patronage to top 3.3 million passengers over the first half of 2007. As a result, Spirit declared a profit for the first half of that year of $22 million compared to three straight years of losses. The company's headquarters is at 2800 Executive Way, Miramar, and its main telephone number is 954-447-7965.
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