Frontier returns to LR’s airport
Flights to Denver to start in spring
Frontier Airlines, the ultra-low-cost carrier, announced an ambitious expansion Tuesday, adding 21 new destinations from its Denver hub, including a return to Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport/ Adams Field.
Daily service between Denver International Airport and Clinton National won’t begin until April, but the announcement offset last week’s report that another low-cost carrier, GLO Airlines, was suspending service to Little Rock and five other destinations it serves from New Orleans.
Frontier’s decision also will give the market more options to fly west. Clinton National already offers direct service to Phoenix and Las Vegas via Southwest Airlines, Denver via United Airlines and Los Angeles via Allegiant Air, the last on a seasonal basis.
“We would like to see more flights west,” said Ron Mathieu, Clinton National’s executive director.
The announcement comes as passenger traffic is rising at the state’s largest airport. Last year was the first time since 2012 that Clinton National saw passenger traffic rise, increasing less than 0.5 percent.
Improvement has continued into the new year.
Passenger traffic through June 30 rose 2.1 percent compared with the first six months of 2016, to 991,620.
Frontier is beginning service at Clinton National for the third time. It initially entered the market in 2004 and left in 2008. It returned in 2011 and remained until May 2014.
Mathieu said he believes Frontier will find a better fit at the airport as an ultra-lowcost carrier. Allegiant Air, another ultra-low-cost carrier, has proved to be a popular niche option for Clinton National passengers.
Ultra- low- cost airlines typically offer fewer comforts to go along with the lower fares when compared with regular airlines, such as American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, which also serve Clinton National. To offset low fares, the no-frills carriers often charge extra for food, priority boarding, seat selection and baggage.
Allegiant Air has carried 18,553 Clinton National passengers through June 30, a 43.3 percent jump over the 12,947 passengers it carried in the first six months of 2016.
“I think our market is accustomed and has adjusted to the ultra-low-cost carrier,” Mathieu said. “Our customers do a really good job of keeping Allegiant in town.”
Mathieu said he also was taken aback at the feedback he has received over the suspension of GLO service, which the airline announced last week in order, it said, to find a new operator of its aircraft.
“I have heard more about GLO from my neighbors and fellow citizens than I ever anticipated,” he said.
Frontier will be the seventh airline to provide service at Clinton National, assuming GLO airlines remains.
The expansion Frontier announced is a more than 30 percent increase in the cities it serves, to 82. Of the 21 new cities, tickets went on sale in eight cities Tuesday. The airline also announced 85 new routes, including 49 that went on sale Tuesday.
Nonstop routes will nearly double to 314 when the expansion is fully rolled out next summer, the airline said. The airline will be able to reach 90 percent of the U.S. population by then.
“Customers will benefit not only from the broad new selection of nonstop routes, but our growing network will provide more than 1,000 new connecting route options,” Barry Biffle, Frontier’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “By taking advantage of our natural share of connecting passengers, we can offer our low fares to even more of America.”
The Frontier flight schedule between Little Rock and Denver hasn’t been finalized, which means people are unable to book flights from Clinton National yet, said Shane Carter, the airport spokesman.