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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, May 8, 201803:43 PM EST

Frontier Airlines to begin nonstop service from Jacksonville to six new destinations

Service to Las Vegas, St. Louis and others, will start in August.
by: David Cawton Associate Editor

Frontier Airlines will begin nonstop service this fall from Jacksonville International Airport to six additional destinations.

From Aug. 13 through Nov. 14, passengers can fly directly to Buffalo Niagara International Airport; Kansas City International Airport; McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas; General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee; Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport; and St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

“We are now serving six nonstop destinations and today we will double that to 12 nonstop, low-cost destinations,” Frontier Vice President of Marketing Tyri Squyres said Tuesday.  “Four of which are brand-new routes.” 

Squyres said the airline will use Airbus A320 aircraft, which seat about 180 passengers in “stretch” and “standard” seating sections. 

The new destinations are in addition to others announced in February and last fall.

Frontier began providing seasonal service this year from JIA to Bergstrom International Airport in Austin, Texas; Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport; Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport; Denver International Airport; Philadelphia International Airport; and Trenton-Mercer Airport in New Jersey. 

The routes announced Tuesday also will run for a three-month span this fall and on a limited basis. 

Flights to and from Buffalo and Kansas City are Mondays and Fridays. Service to Las Vegas, Milwaukee and Minneapolis run Wednesdays and Saturdays. Flights to and from St. Louis are Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. 

Squyres said one-way introductory fares will start at $39 for the St. Louis route and $79 for Las Vegas. 

She said the added destinations are based on customer feedback and actual and anticipated demand.

“When we look at what demand is already there, we know that because of low fares, more people will fly that route,” Squyres said. 

She said 200 new aircraft are coming online this year as part of a $15 billion expansion, which could lead to more flights out of Jacksonville. 

Squyres said Frontier’s target customer base is leisure travelers, as well as business travelers although “the type of business customer that wants to fly with us is usually a small business customer who is actually paying for the airfare themselves.”

She said the airline provides small business owners with a low-cost option versus other airlines that may offer more amenities.

Michael Stewart, Jacksonville Aviation Authority director of external affairs, studies a Frontier plane model.

Michael Stewart, Jacksonville Aviation Authority director of external affairs, said the added destinations reflect the overall growth of the Jacksonville area.

“Their other routes have worked out well and we’re confident these new routes will perform, too,” he said.

Stewart cautioned that providing those flights, however, depends on the support of the airport and customers.

 “All nonstop service, if not supported, has a possibility of going away,” he said.

Barbara Halverstadt, director of marketing for JIA, said the new routes reflect destinations of interest to business customers, although that doesn’t mean customers are ready to adopt a new airline.

“The challenge we have with the nonstop flights is our business travelers are very loyal to one airline,” Halverstadt said.

“They have credit cards, and mileage and all the other things that are tied to that, which makes it very difficult,” she said.

Halverstadt said carriers have the ultimate authority over what airports they service and what destinations are committed.

“They’re going to put the plane in a place where they know they’re going to get the support of the community,” she said. “We think these flights are attractive to those business customers, too.”

Frontier’s expansion in Jacksonville is an example of growth at JIA, which Halverstadt said is expected to continue.

She said the airport serves just less than 6 million passengers annually, and that the configuration of the gates can accommodate around 7 million.

She said growth, including construction of another concourse, won’t happen soon.

“As we see traffic continue to climb, we may need to look at the gate-side of things, in terms of availability of gates,” Halverstadt said. “We haven’t made those decisions just yet.”

Still, direct flights to cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco remain elusive to Jacksonville flyers.

Halverstadt said securing those direct flights, as well as international flights to London and Frankfurt, continue to be priorities for JAA.

Among other destination purposes, London is the site of an annual Jacksonville Jaguars home game, among other interests, and Frankfurt is the headquarters for Deutsche Bank, which maintains a large financial center in Southside.

“Those flights require large aircraft and there has to be a certain level of demand to accommodate that investment from the carriers,” Halverstadt said. “We’re close, but we’re not there just yet,”

Squyres didn’t rule out service to the West Coast.

Frontier, which is a subsidiary of Indigo Partners LLC, is expanding nationwide.

In 2017, the Denver-based airliner announced 21 additional destinations that included re-established service to Jacksonville after pulling out of the market.

The company expects to service a total of 82 cities in the U.S. and abroad by summer with most of those flights departing from Denver and Orlando according to the company’s website.

Squyres said Jacksonville’s 12 routes represent the largest expansion to one airport so far in 2018.

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