This morning Frontier announced it would buy Spirit to become the 5th largest airline by revenue in the U.S. As is typical these days, mobile app performance matches the overall market – and it also tends to hint at what's ahead. American Airlines, United, Delta, Southwest and Spirit have been the top 5 U.S. airline apps by download market share since late 2019.
This deal signals more change, if the market continues to follow mobile performance. Spirit and Frontier were the fastest growing apps QoQ in 4Q 2021. A Spirit-Frontier app would rank fourth largest in terms of market share, right below Delta – and above Southwest.
Last week Southwest announced a new CEO. “Improving technology for staff and customers” was highlighted as a top priority. Southwest made the top 10 most downloaded travel apps in 2020 but fell to Delta in 2021. Spirit-Frontier threatens the mobile growth of both companies.
Safe to say, airline app competition will get hotter. Since Q1 2019, Spirit focused on mobile to nearly double its download market share, from 6% to 11% (in the end, it affected Southwest the most).
Frontier, meanwhile, did well to maintain its small slice of the market and should not be overlooked as a savvy mobile competitor. Apptopia Search intelligence discovered "United" became an organic search term that it ranked for. Meaning that would-be United users were happy enough to download Frontier when it appeared in search results.