Frontier Airlines sets September 14 for final departure

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email
Come September, Grand Valley residents will have one less choice when it comes to flying.

*** FILE *** A long line of Frontier Airlines Airbus 319s sit at the gates on concourse A at Denver International Airport on Wednesday, May 24, 2006. Frontier Airlines Holdings Inc. said Friday April 11, 2008 it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection but plans to continue normal business operations throughout its reorganization. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, FILE)

Come September, Grand Valley residents will have one less choice when it comes to flying.
Tuesday, Frontier Airlines officially announced it's pulling out of Grand Junction Regional Airport, as it tries to reorganize in the face of bankruptcy.
11 News Reporter Tim Ciesco has more on what it means to the Grand Valley.
On May 1, 2008, the first Frontier flight to the Grand Valley landed at Grand Junction Regional Airport.
On September 14, 2009, the last one will take off.
Barb Bowman with the Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau says, "We were so delighted about the increased capacity, however, we recognize in this particular economic climate that business travel might not be as great as it was."
When Frontier launched, it became the second airline to fly passengers between Grand Junction and Denver, carrying them over the mountains four times each day.
Rex Tippetts, director of aviation at the airport, says, "We doubled the number of seats overnight. With that type of growth it was hard to fill all those seats."
Airport officials say Frontier quickly realized that too, dropping the number of daily flights from four to three.
But even then, things didn't improve.
"They've been running a 39 percent load factor for the last six months where most of the airlines are in the seventies and eighties," Tippetts says.
Frontier tells 11 News over the phone, that ultimately, the Grand Junction flights didn't do as well as they were hoping and with a limited number of aircraft, they felt there were better opportunities elsewhere.
"Really hasn't been a big surprise," he says.
Airport officials say the loss means 240 less seats to Denver each day.
But considering the airport still connects to six hubs, and United Airlines carries three times the number of passengers each month that Frontier ever did, the impact won't be great.
"Other things could have happened that we'd be more concerned about," Tippetts says.
The Grand Junction Visitor and Convention bureau says it's not too concerned either because local surveys have indicated people on business trips, not vacation, use the airport the most.
Bowman says, "We are primarily a drive market, so our leisure tourism comes primarily in by car."
But local travel agents say it could leave some mark on consumers.
Ron Lindsay with First Class Travel says, "Frontier certainly offered great low fares to get out of Grand Junction, which we all desperately needed. With them leaving now, will we get those with the other airlines?"
Ultimately, all agree it's unfortunate Frontier has to leave but say that's business and life will go on.
The airport says if you've booked a flight with Frontier for after September 14, contact the airline immediately.
Frontier says it has also decided to stop service to El Paso, Texas.

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