MIAMI – Ultra-low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines announced major cuts at its long-time Denver hub to 16 destinations. This marks the latest rounds of cuts from Denver as Frontier slowly transitions into a focus city-oriented route system.
The Cities Losing Service from Denver are as Follows:
29NOV14 Eugene, 01DEC14 Bakersfield, 19DEC14 Ft. Lauderdale, 20DEC14 New York LaGuardia, 05JAN15 Idaho Falls, 06JAN15 Fresno, 06JAN15 Harrisburg, 06JAN15 Spokane, 07JAN15 Santa Barbara, 07JAN15 Chicago Midway, 07JAN15 Bloomington, 07JAN15 Newport News, 07JAN15 Minot, 07JAN15 Palm Springs, 29APR15 Oklahoma City, 30 APR15 Fargo.
As shown, the cuts hit cities from Spokane to New York LaGuardia. Many of the destinations cut are seasonal service to smaller West Coast cities. These routes simply no longer fit in Frontier’s business model of high-frequency leisure routes.
The carrier’s management team, headed by CEO David Siegel, has not been afraid to quickly start routes only to cut them months later. A case in point is Idaho Falls, which only received Frontier service in June. Several announced cuts became effective almost immediately, including Eugene and Bakersfield.
It should be noted that the Ft. Lauderdale and Chicago Midway routes are simply being replaced with flights to Miami International and Chicago O’Hare, respectively. Frontier is currently rapidly expanding in the Chicago market, with new announced service from O’Hare to Atlanta, Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Tampa, Trenton and several international seasonal destinations.
When reached for a comment, a Frontier spokesperson said “the Frontier business model is changing in many ways and the difficult decision to discontinue our service to several communities from Denver comes after careful analysis and evaluation.
Historically, Frontier has relied on connecting passengers flowing through Denver. We are now focused on delivering ultra-low fares to local traffic via point-to-point service and at this time many of these communities don’t fit within this shift in strategy. We sincerely appreciate the support each community and airport have provided Frontier. Customers impacted by the change will be contacted by the airline and provided a full refund.”
There used to be two hometown teams in Denver – the Broncos and Frontier, said Mike Boyd, founder and president of aviation consultancy Boyd Group International, based in Evergreen Colorado. “I said 20 years ago that Denver airport was not cheap. There’s also not good weather and the airport presents issues if you want to connect people, because it’s a choke point,” he said. “So [David] Siegel is doing the right thing by moving his airline into another model.”
There have been major changes at Frontier, said Boyd. “Eighteen months ago, they were talking about being a big fish in their own pond with service from cities like Trenton, Wilmington and Allentown for metro periphery flying,” he said. “They actually had an ad in Wilmington with the tag line `It’s Silly to Fly Out of Philly.’”
Since then, Frontier decided to adopt the Spirit Airlines model, going into big markets, offering low fares and stimulating the market, said Boyd. “None of the markets Frontier pulled out of was doing badly, with load factors in the 80- and 90-percent range,” he said. “What they’re doing now is getting people out of their La-Z-Boys and trailer parks and flying them to Chicago.”
Only two months after a major brand refresh, Frontier is continuing to transition into its larger role on the East Coast. The one-time predominantly West Coast airline started in 1994 has only recently broadened its horizons in an effort to become profitable after several rounds of ownership.
In April of 2008, Frontier Airlines filed for bankruptcy and merged with Midwest Airlines under ownership of Republic Airways Holdings. In October 2013, Indigo Partners, the former owners of Spirit Airlines, purchased Frontier for $145 million.
Frontier is now going after people who otherwise fly, said Boyd. “With all the flights Spirit has at Dallas/Fort Worth, it hasn’t moved the needle on American Airlines’ customers,” he said. “These are people who would not have flown before.”
It will be a great model for Frontier if they can make money, said Boyd. “With Denver, the connecting hub will be gone in a year,” he said. “Frontier is doing the right thing. They are taking their aircraft and going elsewhere.”