Topic of the Week: Frontier in Denver


I already wrote about Spirit and Allegiant this week, so we can’t leave Frontier out of the mix can we? Frontier announced it would start cutting back Denver with reduced flights and jobs. Is this the right move? What do you think will replace that flying?

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19 comments on “Topic of the Week: Frontier in Denver

  1. Considering I am flying F9 from ATL-DEN this Turkey Day – Monday for $225 RT I would prefer if they always flew in and out of Denver for pretty good deals. Is this considered a win by Southwest??

  2. Folks over at have their shorts in a knot about this one, but as I see it, the drawdown is really just a part of their move to a ULCC model. Large connecting hubs such as Denver don’t really fit the new strategy.

  3. Posturing as indicated by the fact that they hope to achieve this right-sizing only through “retirements and attrition.” Likely it is an attempt to better set them up for negotiations with DIA next year.

    That said I do believe, to an extent, the statement that connecting traffic is not profitable or atleast not as profitable as other routes could be. While SWA has gotten away from it, there is still a market I believe for a point to point ULCC here in the state’s, and their investment in tertiary airports is an interesting experiment and one that I will be interested in seeing happening going forward.

    1. I wonder how much of this is F9 just responding to the fact that they’re now No 3 in DEN, behind UA and WN. I’d be interested in seeing a chart of how much the number of operations and/or seats have changed over the past five years.

  4. Well if they want to be like Spirit and Allegiant, that’s what they need to do. Denver isn’t exactly a year round vacation destination like Florida, Mexico and the south western part of the USA which seen to work for ULCC type carriers. Even in winter for the Ski season people head to other parts of Colorado or other states, so except for Denver being a large city, any airline going for the leisure crowd needs to find other places to call home.

  5. DIA to JAC was an 88 dollar bill on F9. now the walk up on DL/UA is $1,680
    Spendy wendy from now on.

  6. If the DL, AA, WN, and UA are disciplined none of them will back fill the lost capacity. NK, VX, G$ are the wild cards.

  7. Unless you read the attached link to the Denver Post, what’s missing from Cranky’s brief intro is the matter of costs at DIA. From the CEO’s letter to the Frontier staff:


    Since it is no longer profitable to serve some of the smaller regional stations that rely on connecting traffic, I assume we’ll see a bulld-up at other big airports – PHX now has several routes. I believe that by Christmas, half the fleet be (schedule) assigned to airports other than DEN. ORD, for example, will have four aircraft assigned to it, up from none last year, and with perhaps more to come.

    1. For some reason the post rejected the quote from the CEO, I’ll try again:

      In Colorado, we are also faced with escalating taxes and airport charges at Denver International Airport (DIA) where operating cost have risen faster than any other major U.S. airport over the past decade. As an example, Colorado property taxes have doubled in the last two years and airport landing fees are up by 30% over the past three years. The cumulative effect of these increasing costs is that connecting traffic is no longer profitable for our airline.

  8. With the recent DL additions out of SEA I’ll bet that, if anybody, F9 will be the one to pull the plug on SEA-DEN.

  9. This is rather disappointing. Denver is Frontier’s largest market and the only one where they have any decent level of frequency. If they cut back, then they are essentially going to become a vacation-to-warm-places-over-the-weekend airline. Perhaps this is what they want, but it makes it less useful for many people.

  10. It’s almost impossible to make money as the #3 airline in a hub, and hubs and flow traffic don’t really fit the ULCC model. The only real surprise is that it has taken them this long.

    With F9 moving to the ULCC model, most business travelers and frequent travelers are going to favor UA & WN anyway.

    1. And yet Frontier made $35 million (net) in Q2 according to the Denver Post.

      What the CEO’s letter says is that the costs at DEN have made “connecting traffic” unprofitable at DEN – it doesn’t say DEN itself is unprofitable.

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