Brash, fee-happy Spirit Airlines CEO replaced

Posted at 10:07 AM, Jan 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-05 10:08:24-05

NEW YORK (AP) -- Ben Baldanza, who led the industry push for more and more airline fees, is out as CEO of Spirit Airlines.

Spirit was losing money until Baldanza, 54, took over in 2006. He oversaw the airline's transformation into an "ultra-low cost carrier," an airline that didn't include anything in its base fare and charged extra for seat assignments, snacks, soda and even using the overhead bin. To cram more people into its jets, Baldanza stripped passengers of the ability to recline their seats. He spun the move as making the seats "pre-reclined."

Known for his brash, no-excuses style, Baldanza said that if people didn't like the fees, they could fly another airline.

Robert L. Fornaro, who led discount carrier AirTran before its sale to Southwest Airlines, will take over as CEO immediately.