Spirit CEO: Complaints

are actually very few

Regarding the April 12 story, "Spirit the 'most-complained about' airline, new report finds":

We care about every one of our customers and work hard to deliver what they value most: safe, reliable transportation to where they want to go at a lower cost than other airlines. The No. 1 thing that makes our customers happy is getting where they want to go for less.

There's always "more to the story," and there is here too. First, the number of complaints to the Department of Transportation is very small for all airlines, including Spirit. The industry averages around one or two complaints for every 100,000 customers, which is a great level of performance. Over the last five years, we've averaged eight complaints per 100,000 customers. That means 99,992 customers did not file a complaint, while eight did. That is a very, very small number, although it's not one with which we are satisfied. For the last few months, complaints about Spirit have declined more than 30 percent, to five per 100,000 customers. And we're still not satisfied.

Offering our low fares requires doing some things that some people complain about - more seats on our planes with a little less legroom, no wi-fi or video screens, and no refunds without insurance. Judging by the number of customers on our planes and our repeat-customer rate, most people like this tradeoff.

We know some customers are surprised by our unbundled, a la carte model, and that creates some complaints. That's why we've committed Spirit to two key objectives: Helping all of our customers learn how to fly on Spirit while keeping more money in their pockets and sustaining our great safety record, while we continue to improve our operational reliability.

There is one thing we won't do - add costs for things that most customers don't value as much as our low fares just to reduce the complaints of a few customers. Doing that would raise prices for everyone, compromising our commitment to what our customers have continuously told us they truly value - the lowest possible price.

BEN BALDANZA

CEO

Spirit Airlines

Miramar, Fla.

Don't punish students

in NJSTARS program

I read with disgust recently that college students are going to lose scholarships under the NJSTARS program due to bureaucratic mistakes. They followed the rules and are now going to pay a financial price. What a bad lesson to teach.

I am happy that Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Salem, Gloucester, is calling on the state to reverse its decision and award the scholarships that these students were banking on. Sweeney seems to understand the suffocating college costs that parents and students face, and I hope the state takes his advice.

STEPHEN CLYDE

Berlin

Let's make Revel

a university of the arts

The April 10 story, "Local 54: Revel worth between $25M and $73M," caught my attention in Florida where I've retreated after numerous unsuccessful but spirited attempts to win political office in Atlantic County.

A righteous movement is now needed to use the splendid Revel Casino Hotel, which cost $2.4 billion to build, for an unintended use that it is very well suited for - a university of the performing arts and sciences.

Maybe Gov. Chris Christie will run with this idea and jumpstart his derailed presidential ambitions. Or maybe Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, leads the way. Or maybe nobody does anything.

But this could be the opportunity of a lifetime

Make it known that infrastructure improvements to the South Inlet are on hold, scaring away gaming speculators so we, and not them, can pick up Revel for pennies on the dollar. Government officials and civic leaders can then solicit philanthropic dollars from American billionaires.

In short order, students from this university could be opening for major stars at the casinos. The South Inlet would develop as professors and administrators move in. And home prices in Atlantic County would rise at the mere announcement that local politicians and Trenton are considering the idea of a university of the performing arts and sciences at Revel.

Laugh if you will, but the idea makes good economic sense.

GARY STEIN

Sunrise, Fla.