Spirit Airlines and Lewis University have started a new partnership to launch the Spirit Wings Pilot Pathway program at the university's College of Aviation, Science and Technology in Romeoville, Illinois. The program provides graduates with a direct path to a rewarding career flying for Spirit. Lewis University students can gain valuable experience and complete the steps needed to become a Spirit First Officer while attending the aviation university and finishing their college degree.

"We're on a mission to expand our pilot pipeline with more top-notch talent as we continue to grow, and the Chicago area is a great fit to launch the first university-based Spirit Wings Pilot Pathway program in the Midwest," said Ryan Rodosta, Senior Director of Flight Operations and System Chief Pilot at Spirit Airlines.

Lewis University students pursuing an aviation technology degree can apply for the program after obtaining a recommendation from a faculty member in the College of Aviation, Science and Technology and completing their sophomore year. If successful in Spirit's interview process, they will receive a conditional offer of employment, a Spirit Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) and mentorship as they complete their degree and all Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements for a Restricted Airline Transport Pilot (R-ATP) certificate. Graduates who meet all program requirements will join the team as a Spirit First Officer.

Spirit Wings Pilot Pathway expands the carrier's presence in Illinois. Spirit currently offers about two dozen daily departures from Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD), which is also home to one of the airline's 10 pilot crew bases.

More than two dozen brand-new planes are planned for delivery in 2023, creating opportunities for First Officers to quickly upgrade to Captain. Spirit's Pilots recently approved a contract that provides a significant pay increase and other enhanced benefits.