APEX President and CEO Joe Leader and Spirit Airlines CEO Robert Fornaro

Image: Vance Walstra

“We had low prices, and that was it. One of the many decisions we made was to invest in technology,” said Robert Fornaro, reflecting on his early days as CEO of Spirit Airlines, three years ago.

And while previous leadership at Spirit may have resisted a move into in-flight connectivity, Fornaro had a different approach. “We just did not want to offer a service just to say we had it. We wanted to make sure we had a breakthrough solution that fit our business model,” he said.

APEX @ is made possible by the support of West Entertainment.

The airline’s drive to “invest in the guest” led it to become the US launch customer for Thales FlytLIVE, the connectivity provider’s high-throughput Ka-band satellite service. “It’s very high quality, and we want it to be affordable,” said Fornaro. “We want people to use it.”

Beyond giving passengers Internet access – including streaming – FlytLIVE’s technology will bring Spirit new opportunities. “We have an underlying data platform capability. With analytics, it can provide an almost limitless capability for Spirit to develop its value proposition, and take advantage of ancillary revenues, to understand the guest, and really tune the passenger experience,” said Fred Schreiner, chief technology officer, Thales InFlyt Experience.

Howard has been passionate about aviation since he was a little kid, and is a pilot who loves to fly gliders and just about anything else with wings. He's a frequent contributor to aviation magazines and blogs.