Frontier Airlines will add Orlando, Fla., and San Diego to its Colorado Springs schedule, the Denver-based carrier announced Friday.
The announcment came on the same day that the airline began service to Phoenix on a daily basis, to Los Angeles six days a week and to Seattle four days a week; it will begin service Sunday to Portland three days a week. Both the Portland and Seattle flights are seasonal, with the Portland service scheduled to end in September and Seattle in November. All of
Frontier’s flights in the Springs are on 138-seat Airbus A319 aircraft.
The new Orlando and San Diego flights will also be seasonal — but the opposite seasons from Portland and Seattle. San Diego flights will begin in September, initially flying three days a week and switching to four days a week in November; the three-day-a-week Orlando flights begin in November. Introductory fares are as low as $69 each way to San Diego and $109 each way to Orlando. For the first week, those fares will be offered only online at FrontierAirlines.com.
“We know there is good demand from Colorado Springs to San Diego and the two cities have strong military ties,” Daniel Shurz, Frontier’s senior vice president-commercial, said during a press conference Friday announcing the new service. “We also know there is great demand for flights to Orlando all along the Front Range, including in Colorado Springs.”
The flights to San Diego are the first nonstop service from the Springs since ExpressJet Airlines shut down in 2008. Nonstop flights to Orlando have not been available since Western Pacific Airlines moved most of its schedule from Colorado Springs to Denver International Airport in 1997 before filing for U.S. Bankruptcy Court protection and later shutting down.
Orlando and San Diego rank as the 11th and 15th most popular travel destination for Colorado Springs passengers, and the second and fifth most popular without nonstop service from the Springs.
“Orlando attracts 700 passengers a day from Denver, and along with Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Diego gives us a strong set of winter destinations,” Shurz said. “We have seen good support of these destinations that we started today with each of the flights leaving this morning with load factors (percentage of seats filled with passengers) of more than 95 percent. If these (new) destinations go well, we could add capacity to our Colorado Springs network next summer. We know community support here has been good. All signs here are positive.”
Shurz said San Diego has potential to become a year-round destination from the Springs. San Diego was part of Frontier’s unsuccessful application for takeoff and landing slots for a daily round-trip flight between the Springs and Ronald Reagan National Airport. The U.S. Transportation Department turned down Frontier’s request on Monday, awarding the slots to four other airlines.
Shurz said the carrier is still studying adding nonstop flights to Chicago’s Midway Airport and Dallas-Forth Worth to its Colorado Springs schedule.
“We believe support for these new flights will be strong,” said Mark Earle, aviation director for the city of Colorado Springs. “A big part of the equation is that Frontier is offering low fares on nonstop flights on full-sized jets. We have always believed that the combination of full-sized jets and low fares would be successful in Colorado Springs. We are hoping that there are more opportunities out there, but that depends on the market.”
Frontier is using Colorado Springs as a test market for “focus cities,” or tiny hubs where no airline operates a hub or dominates the market, in hopes of attracting passengers by offering nonstop flights to popular destinations on full-size jets. Frontier began serving Colorado Springs in 2008 and also operates four flights a day to its Denver hub.
The carrier has launched a similar initiative in Orlando and continues to study opportunities for other focus cities around the nation, Shurz said. Frontier isn’t reducing service at its Denver hub to expand in Orlando and the Springs; it also begins flights next week from DIA to seven new destinations, he said.
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