Republic’s new Frontier faces growing Southwest, United competition in Denver

Serious business – emerging from Chapter 11: “We’re still having fun.”

Last week Frontier Airlines (and its subsidiary Lynx Aviation) emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with Republic Airways Holdings as its new owners. Republic also recently took control of Milwaukee based Midwest Airlines. Frontier, despite being a low-fare carrier, operates a hub-and-spoke system from its base at Denver in Colorado. It currently operates a fleet of around 50 Airbus aircraft (eight A318s, 38 A319s and four A320s) and 11 Q400s (operated by Lynx Aviation).

Last year Frontier Airlines carried 10.58 million passengers (up two per cent) on its mainline services (at a load factor of 82%) while Lynx Aviation transported almost another one million passengers. The airline’s network consists of operating non-stop to over 50 destinations from Denver, plus a few other services mostly linking US airports with Mexican destinations primarily during the winter season.

Chart: Frontier’s top 15 routes from Denver - Weekly frequency of Frontier and competitors
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 5 October 2009
Image: Frontier Route Map
Click to enlarge

None of the airline’s routes are served with more than seven daily flights. However, 15 destinations are served with at least four daily flights. On 14 of these routes Frontier/Lynx faces head-to-head competition with United, while Southwest, a relative newcomer at the airport, already competes head-on on 13 routes. On six routes there is competition from an additional carrier.

Latest figures from Denver airport show that Frontier/Lynx’s market share of traffic at the airport in the first eight months of 2009 was 23.4%, down marginally on 2008 when it was 24.7%. During the same period Southwest’s market share has grown from 8% to 14%.

Image: Frontier Plane at Denver
Hybrid: Although a low cost carrier, Frontier operates a hub and spoke system at Denver. Southwest, a relative newcomer at the airport, provides stiff competition on 13 routes, growing its market share from 8% to 14% in the first eight months of 2009, while Frontier’s was stable at around 24%.

Seasonal services to resume shortly

Seasonal services from Denver to Cozumel and Mazatlan (both in Mexico) resume on 17 October as do Mexican services from Kansas and Salt Lake City. Flights to San Jose start up once more in mid-December while Anchorage and Jackson Hole return to the schedule next spring.

The airline is famous for its TV advertising which features the animals from its tailfins chatting about various topics. The most used characters are Larry the lynx, Grizwald the bear, Jack the rabbit, Flip the dolphin and the penguin vocal quartet of Jim, Joe, Jay and Gary. A whole series of ads were produced to promote the launch of Mexican services several years ago.

Image: Frontier Airbuses
A whole lot of different animals.

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