Only days after having resolved a pilot strike, low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines unveiled today an ill-considered promotion advertising discounted fares to certain beach destinations that appears to make light of the Gulf oil spill.
The online slideshow ad, which is still up on the airline's homepage, begins with the slogan "Check Out The Oil On Our Beaches" written on the screen and then flips through slides of bikini-clad women supposedly on the beaches of Cancun, San Juan, Atlantic City and Ft. Lauderdale.
The spot then ends on an image of a green bottle of sun tan oil that reads "BEST PROTECTION $50* OFF", with the 'B' and 'P' highlighted in yellow, a clear reference to the BP oil company. Customers who click on the ad are taken to a screen with a message that reads in part, "Check out the oil on our beaches. You won't be disappointed."
Asked for comment, the airline made clear that it was standing by its ad, saying in a statement, "It is unfortunate that some have misunderstood our intention with today's beach promotion. We are merely addressing the false perception that we have oil on our beaches, and we are encouraging customers to support Florida and our other beach destinations by continuing to travel to these vacation hot spots."
"We are excited to continue offering customers huge savings with specials like today's offer promoting travel to our many beach destinations," the statement continued. "The only oil you'll find when traveling to our beaches is sun tan oil."
Carter Yang is a Washington-based producer for the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. He covers aviation, transportation, and Homeland Security.