Frontier announces flights to Orlando and San Diego, with more in the works

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Frontier Airlines will add nonstop service to Orlando, Fla., and San Diego from Colorado Springs, and there could be more nonstop flights to major cities in the works.

The airline now has seven nonstop flights from the Springs.

It’s part of Frontier Airlines new business model in which the company has dubbed Colorado Springs a “focus city” with plans of non-stop flights, larger more efficient aircraft and lower ticket prices.

“Colorado Springs is an important part of Frontier’s network and the response we have seen from customers to the four new routes we start this weekend has led to our announcement of this new low-fare service,” said Daniel Shurz, Frontier’s senior vice president.

The airline has a hub in Denver and since 2008 has had a healthy schedule of flights from Colorado Springs to Denver and back to get passengers to connecting flights. But after careful study of the market, Frontier believes there is a significant number of flights that could be from point to point.

Colorado Springs is one of two focus cities. The other is Orlando. Shurz said a direct flight from the Springs to Orlando holds a lot of promise. In recent years, other airlines including Air Tran have cut back on direct flights into the city.

“The data shows there is an opportunity here,” he said.

Frontier is flying its bigger airplanes in and out of Colorado Springs. Typically, the smaller aircraft flies from smaller airports to the larger hub airports. But those aircraft are less efficient to operate and fuel costs more per passenger, which usually means higher ticket prices.

Frontier is flying its 138-seat Airbus A319 out of Colorado Springs and they are lowering ticket prices so they can fill the plane. Prices are comparable to tickets flying out of Denver, Shurz said. For example, the new destinations start with introductory fares as low as $69 each way, including taxes and fees to San Diego and as low as $109 each way to Orlando.

Frontier is starting new nonstop service from The Springs to Los Angeles, Phoenix and Seattle today, and nonstop service to Portland starts Sunday.

Already bookings for the new flights are solid. As Frontier officials were announcing the two new flights Friday, a 138-seat plane to Los Angeles had 131 seats sold; a plane to Phoenix had 135 seats sold.

And, more people are booking the direct flights on Frontier’s website, one of the company’s goals. About 70 percent of the flights booked to the new four cities have been on the airline’s site, compared with 40 percent system-wide.

“If this works we see opportunity to try new things,” Shurz said. The airline is investigation adding nonstop flights from the Springs to Dallas and Chicago, Shurz said.

Already the Frontier low fares have affected the fares of other airlines, said Mark Earle, Colorado Springs Airport aviation director.

“You are going to have a competitive response from the others, and we are seeing that,” he said. “It’s a good thing from a customer standpoint. It’s a challenge for the carriers in a very competitive market. But, it’s something we try to encourage as much competition as possible so that we get as many options for our customers.”