FRONTIER ANNOUNCES NEW FLIGHTS
Airline broadens its network with 21 new cities and offers sale on fares
Frontier Airlines announced an expansion of its network — including 21 new destinations from Denver International Airport — and a fare sale to fill the seats. The move, which comes as the Denverbased airline prepares for an initial public offering, signals a renewed focus on Frontier’s primary hub after several years of reductions at DIA.
Frontier Airlines on Tuesday announced an expansion of its network — including 21 new destinations from Denver International Airport — and a fare sale to fill the seats.
The move, which comes as the Denverbased airline prepares for an initial public offering, signals a renewed focus on Frontier’s primary hub after several years of reductions at DIA.
Frontier said the expansion, including non-Denver routes, increases the number of destinations served by the carrier by 30 percent and doubles the number of total routes.
executives joined airport officials in making the announcement at DIA, hailing the expansion as an important step for both. The expansion positions Frontier ahead of Southwest Airlines and behind United Airlines in terms of destinations served from DIA, although Frontier remains third in passenger traffic, officials said.
“Our hometown is very important to us,” Frontier chief financial officer Jimmy Dempsey said. “We have been a Coloradobased airline for 23 years.”
The new flights will roll out beginning this fall and will be fully scheduled by next summer. Six of the flights were available for booking immediately: Albuquerque; Oklahoma City; Ontario, Calif.; Palm Springs, Calif.; Reno, Nev.; and San Jose, Calif.
The announcement comes several months after a major customer-relations nightmare for the low-cost airline. In December, hundreds of flights were cancelled due to a Denver storm, preventing customers from reaching their holiday destinations. A month after the fiasco, Frontier’s chief operating officer and vice president of customer experience stepped down.
The added flights will benefit Denver customers, said DIA chief commercial officer Patrick Heck. He said adding Frontier as a carrier to destinations that previously
only had one will increase competition and cause fares to fall.
“Of our top 50 destinations (from DIA), 49 of them will now have competitive service, meaning they have more than one carrier on that route,” Heck said. “So, that is great news for consumers.”
New routes from Denver include Boise, Idaho; Calgary, Alberta; Charleston, S.C.; El Paso; Fresno, Calif.; Jackson, Wyo.; Louisville, Ky.; and Tulsa, Okla.
Heck expects the new flights will drive more traffic to DIA, as Frontier’s low-price model may persuade cost-savvy customers to fly when they normally wouldn’t have.
As DIA works to accommodate airline expansions such as Frontier’s, the airport is looking to expand. It will get six new gates for concourse A by the end of the year — not specifically for Frontier — and is pursuing gate expansions for all of its concourses over the next two to three years.
“It’s no secret that we are bursting at the seams right now with all the growth we’ve seen from Frontier and other carriers,” Heck said. “We are really pursuing some growth and expansion. (Concourse A) will give us a little bit of breathing room to allow carriers to continue their growth while we look at more long-term permanent expansions.”
Frontier is also expanding. Dempsey said the company, which has grown by more than 20 percent this year, expects to grow by 15 percent next year. In March, the ultra-low cost carrier filed regulatory paperwork for an initial public offering.
While Dempsey said Frontier can operate the new destinations with current resources, he said the airline will evaluate the growth through the next six to eight months to see what infrastructure the carrier might need from DIA.
“We continue to add substantial amounts of aircraft every year,” Dempsey said. “This is not the end. … We have put the business on a very strong financial footing in the last three years which facilitates our growth plans in the coming years.”
Frontier will offer fares as low as $39 one way for a limited time — most will be valid from Nov. 2 through March 8. The airline will add other new routes around the country, mainly focusing on winter service to warm destinations, namely Miami and other Florida destinations (Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers), as well as Cancun.
All told, the company added 21 cities served (now totaling 82) and 85 new routes (1,000, including connections, by next summer). Nonstop routes will double to 314. At DIA, Frontier will be the only carrier to offer a direct flight to Buffalo, N.Y.
Since Frontier unveiled its ultra-low cost model in 2014, the airline actively worked to decrease its reliance on DIA, according to the filing. In December 2013, more than 90 percent of Frontier flights originated or ended in Denver. This past December, that number had fallen to about 45 percent. And, in 2015, Frontier asked the city for permission to give up six of its 14 gates at DIA.
In April, Frontier restored eight flights out of DIA.
“It has been a phenomenally successful partnership (between DIA and Frontier),” Dempsey said. “This is the next step in the relationship with Denver.”