Southwest Continues to Grow in Denver, Frontier Pees Its Pants

Poor Frontier. When they look out their windows, they must see Canyon Blue-colored vultures circling the premises. There’s no question that Southwest is going in for the kill. Southwest Finishing FrontierThis week, Southwest said it would once again pump up its Denver flying.

First, here are the details. On June 4, Southwest will add an eighth daily nonstop between Denver and Vegas. The airline will also start twice daily service between Denver and both Portland and Indianapolis. On August 23, San Antonio gets a second flight from Denver.

The Southwest route map from Denver is starting to look quite similar to the Frontier map. Really, the big cities are mostly covered and now Southwest is getting into the secondary ones. To compound the problem, Frontier also announced this week that it would be terminating its contract with Republic to do some regional flying for them. That means they will no longer serve Missoula, Sioux City, Jacksonville, Little Rock, Tulsa, and former mini-hub Memphis. None of those are cities to which Southwest flies nonstop from Denver, so that means Frontier will only have even MORE exposure to the airline. The Republic service must have been an unbelievably poor performer for Frontier to want to ditch it that quickly.

This effectively leaves Lynx and its small fleet of Q400s (they launched Durango the same day this Southwest release came out) to keep the airline away from Southwest, but that’s not going to really cut it. Sadly, Frontier’s time may be up soon.

The airline is in bankruptcy, very low on cash, and looking for funding. With Southwest moving in heavily on Frontier’s only stronghold, I think it’s going to be tough to find someone willing to pour money into the airline. It’s sad, because I really like flying Frontier, but I just don’t know how they can get out of this mess.

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27 Comments on "Southwest Continues to Grow in Denver, Frontier Pees Its Pants"

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Jeff K
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I too really like Frontier! Until they recently reduced seat pitch, I thought they had the LCC thing done nearly perfectly – good seat pitch (6 foot plus bliss), PTV, and a centrally located hub (albeit a crazy one when the snow hit). I also think that UA is going to feel it from the continued SW expansion. UA stated they will reduce their domestic schedule and Denver is their largest domestic flying hub. I’d assume then that Denver will have the most cuts for UA while SW continues to grow. Anyone think that SW may offer seasonal flights to… Read more »
John M
Guest

Sheesh. Who needs 8 daily direct flight between ANY two places? That’s whats killling our ATC system, as you’ve said.

Jeff K
Guest

CF – Good point about the triple-hub. I had also heard of the wi-fi testing, but, has anyone really got it working well?

I kinda don’t want wifi to become ubiquitous as then I’d be reachable in one of the last places that allows me to disconnect.

Craig
Guest
Well, the Frontier Airbuses have different engines than the JetBlue ones, so even if JetBlue wanted more planes they’d just create a new problem. Would be easier for JetBlue to just keep the ones they’re planning to sell and pay for the D-checks. However, there is hope – according to Michael Boyd’s website, Frontier is still attracting a fare premium in markets where they compete with Southwest, along with an 85% load factor. (It’s on aviationplanning.com, scroll down to April 14.) So Southwest may (emphasis “may”, Boyd Group isn’t always 100% objective in my experience) not be as big a… Read more »
JS
Guest
At first, I feared for the city of Denver if United was left to gouge us in a post-Frontier world, but now I see that Cranky is right, Southwest will inherit the low cost mantle in Denver from Frontier if they disappear. Frontier is smart to move into smaller markets with the Q400, which happen to be big vacation destinations. What I don’t get is the timing of opening routes into ski markets just as the slopes are closing. I guess the regulatory delay was an issue. What I would like to see if F9 leveraging the Q400s on some… Read more »
james
Guest
Frontier’s growth and development was the best thing that happened to our city 10 years ago when DEN was a UAL fortress hub. To get to Orange County I was buying hidden city (paper) tickets from ABQ or Kansas City – which were over $150 cheaper then DEN-SNA. I have a couple friends who have been FAs on Frontier or worked ops – and they have all said its a great/positive place to work. They have a modern fleet, the easiest to access concourse (in spread out DEN,) and excellent community participation here. If they don’t sink hopefully they can… Read more »
johnny
Member

I couldn’t agree with you more.

james
Guest

Jeff/Craig

Frontier flies an all airbus A319/320 (jet) fleet – Southwest’s are 737s

Court
Guest
As wierd as it seems, I can’t help but wonder how these agressive moves are being received by Southwest employees. Here is an airline that has preached company culture since day one; The same company culture, I might add, that was built on being the little guy fighting against the big mean airlines trying to run it out of business. Now they’re the big guy trying to run the little guy out of business. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the nature of competition in this industry and fully understand what SWA stands to gain. What I’m curious about is… Read more »
Bob
Guest
Dude you’re just repeating the same crap that Jamie Baker goes off on. Have you read the head-to-head numbers of Frontier vs. Southwest? Passengers? Yield? Load Factor? Average Fare? Market Share? Clearly you haven’t & you’re just copying what a handful of east coast industry speculators have been saying for (2) years. Frontier beats Southwest head-to-head in nearly every market and in every category. If you don’t believe me, go read this post by Mike Boyd. He lays out the most recent head-to-head numbers. Look for the post dated Monday, April, 14. http://www.aviationplanning.com/asrc1.htm That said, clearly Frontier has issues. But… Read more »
Allen
Guest

Not to be rude but isn’t this just parroting what’s in the mainstream media? That is, Frontiers problems are due to SWA. This despite UAL having an enormous presence at DIA and continuing to insist on flying planes that are bleeding money just to hold on to marketshare. Ya, UAL is losing money but had they made some drastic moves like they probably should’ve done a years ago and slashed capacity across the board 25%, how much more breathing room would that have given Frontier?

Jeffrey Sigmon
Guest

I really like Frontier also. I hope they have some magic up their sleeves.

botamern
Member
Boyd’s data is somewhat misleading, in that it makes no comparisons to historical data. It simply shows the 3Q 2007 numbers. Without any perspective to those numbers, ie change in market share, difference in average fare, etc, they don’t do much to show what impact Southwest has had on the markets. A somewhat more detailed description of market performance in Denver was done by Airliners.net member TxAgKuwait, where market share was compared between 1Q and 3Q 2007, with added information regarding total passenger numbers and average fare for all non-stop carriers on certain markets, and not just the three airlines… Read more »
Benji
Guest

Cranky, that is the worst graphic you’ve done in awhile, lol. It shows Frontier as Sub-Zero about to “finish” Southwest (as Cage… erm… a dinosaur) and having won 2 battles already.

Well, I’m hoping the BDL-DEN flight in July I got for my boss doesn’t get cancelled secondary to going out of business…

Allen
Guest

CF –> I agree that in terms of Frontiers future it doesn’t matter what’s causing it so much as that it’s happening. But why imply that it’s SWA? That’s where the debate lies. It’s one thing to question Frontier’s future. It’s another to say SWA is the cause. Of course some of us cranky commenters are going to dispute that claim.

Allen
Guest

Good point on how SWA’s growing presence could be impacting Frontier’s ability to get financing and more so on the cost of it.

dee
Guest

this sucks now i have to get on points.com to trade my frontier mileage for peanuts rather than lose it all when they shut down

darren
Guest
The trouble with comparing Southwest’s O&D yields with Frontier is that Frontier has more connecting traffic, so therefore its RASM on the segment level may indeed be lower than Southwest. Basically I think F9 is totally doomed. Everything they have done to try and diversify away from Southwest hasn’t worked, and there simply isn’t room for them to keep playing in DEN. Southwest is growing in Denver because growing in its more established markets would have greater cannibalization on their network. Clearly Southwest is “on the fence” about parking 22 planes because if F9 liquidates they are going to swoop… Read more »
KR
Guest
I just booked some flights on Frontier and I am especially lucky that Denver is their hub, as thats my “hometown” (even though I’m located elsewhere). I can’t say enough how wonderful their employees are and how they really put the customer first, well over most other airlines. I really hope that they can get out of their rut and make it, because they definitely are an underdog I’d be happy to cheer for. When it comes to Southwest v. UAL v. Frontier, unless Frontier decides to give me $900 tickets, I will choose them any day! I like choosing… Read more »
BOB
Guest

If southwest wins this war the people of denver will pay the price, the airline is the mainline version of mesa with cheep fares until they have a strong hold and recently busted by the FAA for poor maintenance. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29469571/ Frontier is a home town airline that employs our neighbors we need to keep them here and run southwest out. Fly frontier

Luke
Guest

I agree with bob Southwest has had 25 incidents in the last ten years with a fatality Frontier has had only 11 incidents with zero fatalities. I have friends in the aviation industry and they tell me that Southwest pilots are considered cowboys. Pre 911 the pilots who couldn’t get a job at a good airline went to southwest because no one else wanted them. I think I will stick with Frontier as well.

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