Frontier Airlines boosts Colorado Springs and Las Vegas operations

After reviewing and restructuring its operations at the start of the decade and reducing its network by around a third between 2011 and 2013, Frontier returned to growth in 2014 with a year-on-year capacity rise of 9.8 per cent. This was followed by a 6.9 per cent growth in 2015, while last year brought a 16.2 per cent increase as the airline took the opportunity to expand, adding six ‘new’ markets to its network.

The 'Low Fares Done Right’ formula of Frontier Airlines will be further expanded from the middle of the year as the low-cost carrier expands its network from both City of Colorado Springs Municipal Airport and McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. A total of eleven new routes will be added from the two airports from June 2017, adding to the ten new routes it has already revealed in 2017 linking the likes of Austin, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Minneapolis, New York, San Antonio, San Diego and Washington.

Frontier returned to Colorado Springs in April last year with the introduction of flights to Las Vegas and subsequently resurrected former routes to Phoenix in June 2016 and Orlando in October 2016. It had previously served Colorado Springs up until the winter 2012/2013 schedule including non-stop flights to Los Angeles, Orlando, Phoenix and San Diego. These had added to its long-standing link from its Denver base that had operated from April 2008.

It will now return its flights linking Colorado Springs with Los Angeles and San Diego, also adding Chicago, San Francisco and Washington to its network. These will all be flown on a year-round basis from June 10, 2017 with frequencies ranging from three weekly to a daily schedule flown using Airbus A319 and A320 equipment. New seasonal flights to Fort Myers and Tampa will also debut from the autumn.

Colorado Springs continues to garner national attention for its innovative, collaborative business environment and cost-efficient, reliable transportation options are critical to the city’s success. “The expansion of Frontier flights to and from Colorado Springs will help boost our economy as well as further solidify our position among the top business communities in the nation,” said Dirk Draper, president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce & EDC.

Frontier previously attempted to establish Colorado Springs as a focus city and it believes its return under a revised lower-cost formula will deliver better results than previously when demand levels failed to reach its expectations. Passenger flows from the airport are currently dominated by the American Airlines feeder link into its Dallas/Fort Worth International hub and United Airlines’ mainline and regional flights into Denver and its Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport hub.

Meanwhile, in its established Las Vegas market, Frontier will add daily flights from Washington, a four times weekly link from Sioux Falls and twice weekly Bismark service on a year-round basis from June 11, 2017 and a three times weekly year-round Indianapolis flight from July 16, 2017. These will all be flown by either A319 or A320 aircraft.

“Over the course of the past three years Frontier Airlines has had great success with its service to Las Vegas,” said Rosemary Vassiliadis, Clark County director of aviation. “With these additional flights starting this summer, Frontier will have more than tripled its capacity into McCarran International Airport.”

The airline has served Sin City from Denver for more than ten years, but started to grow its activities in autumn 2014 with the addition of links from Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, St Louis and Washington. Last winter it had grown its network to provide domestic links into Las Vegas from 19 destinations across the United States increasing its year-on-year winter capacity by a fifth (20.0 per cent) and it share of seats at McCarran International Airport by 0.8 percentage points to 4.5 per cent. During this current schedule period it is the seventh largest operator at the facility by capacity.

After reviewing and restructuring its operations at the start of the decade and reducing its network by around a third between 2011 and 2013, Frontier returned to growth in 2014 with a year-on-year capacity rise of 9.8 per cent.  This was followed by a 6.9 per cent growth in 2015, while last year brought a 16.2 per cent increase as the airline took the opportunity to expand, adding six ‘new’ markets to its network, comprising Colorado Springs, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Punta Gorda, San Antonio and of course the Cuban capital Havana. In fact only Havana and Punta Gorda were new markets for the operator and the others marked the return to markets previously served, some as recent as 2014.

“Our network continues to expand in markets where people want to fly,” said Josh Flyr, vice president – network planning on the subject of the carrier’s network strategy. “Customer traveling in new markets will now have a new low-cost option,” he added, suggesting that with its revised model it believes former markets can now be served on a sustainable basis.

Among its major markets the network growth for Frontier Airlines has been driven by its expansion at Orlando International Airport, which has cemented itself as the airline’s second largest operation behind its long-standing Denver International Airport base. Departure capacity out of Orlando grew a massive 85.4 per cent in 2016, while strong growth was also recorded in its number three market, Las Vegas (+44.5 per cent), and number five market, Philadelphia (+43.2 per cent). In fact six of its ten largest markets saw a double-digit rise in capacity between 2015 and 2016, with its five largest markets delivering an additional 1.57 million departing seats into its network.

Looking outside Frontier’s largest markets and notable growth was also delivered by the carrier at Nashville (+147.4 per cent) and Milwaukee General Mitchell Field (+102.3 per cent) where its capacity in 2016 more than doubled, albeit from lower original bases. Significant growth was also recorded at Kansas City International (+94.0 per cent), Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County (+78.9 per cent) and St Louis Lambert International (+64.2 per cent).

Our analysis of schedule data from intelligence provider OAG shows that the diversification of the Frontier route network has reduced its focus on its historical core markets, especially at its Denver International Airport base. Over the last ten years, the airline has reduced its operations at Denver by 46.8 per cent, albeit it did record a 7.7 per cent capacity rise in 2016. In 2007 it served 67 non-stop destinations from Denver and now flies to just 52 airports (2016).

But it is not just at Denver that Frontier has called back its operations. Back in 2007, Los Angeles International Airport was its second largest point in its network based on departure capacity, but it is now ranked 13th as capacity has declined by around a third. Again this was offset a little by growth in 2016 when year-on-year capacity was actually up 33.8 per cent, a second consecutive year of gains.

The focus has instead been on the likes of new markets such as Cleveland Hopkins International (from 2010), Chicago O’Hare International (2012) and Cincinnati Northern Kentucky (2012), which are now among the airline’s top ten largest network points, while Philadelphia Trenton-Mercer (from 2012) and Miami International (from 2014) sit just outside the top ten.


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