Frontier Airlines

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Frontier Airlines
Frontier airlines logo14.png
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded February 8, 1994
Commenced operations July 5, 1994[1]
Hubs Denver International Airport
Focus cities
Frequent-flyer program EarlyReturns
Fleet size 60
Destinations 55
Company slogan Low Fares Done Right[6]
Parent company Indigo Partners[7]
Headquarters Denver, Colorado, USA[8]
Key people Bill Franke (Chairman)[9]
Barry Biffle (President)[9][10]

Frontier Airlines is a United States low cost carrier headquartered in Denver, Colorado, USA.[8] The carrier, which is a subsidiary and operating brand of Indigo Partners, LLC,[11] operates flights to 50 destinations throughout the United States and 5 international destinations. The airline maintains a hub at Denver International Airport with focus cities at Chicago O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois; Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland, Ohio; Miami International Airport in Miami, Florida; Orlando International Airport in Orlando, Florida and Trenton–Mercer Airport near Trenton, New Jersey. Also, under a code-share agreement with Great Lakes Airlines, the airline connects passengers to surrounding Rocky Mountain States through their Denver hub.


A Frontier Boeing 737-300. Frontier retired its last 737
"Stan" the Ram (N942FR) Airbus A319


Frontier Airlines was incorporated on February 8, 1994, by a group that included executives of a previous incarnation of Frontier Airlines in response to the void left by Continental Airlines 1993 shutdown of its Denver (Stapleton) hub.[12] Scheduled flights began five months later in July 1994 utilizing Boeing 737 jetliners. Like the original, Frontier flew out of Denver and for the first 9 years used the slogan "The Spirit of the West" which was displayed above the windows and just behind the cursive letters "Frontier" on the fuselage of their aircraft. In 1999, Frontier signed agreements to begin purchasing and leasing Airbus A318 and A319 jet aircraft to expand its fleet.


Frontier took delivery of its first Airbus aircraft (an A319) in 2001 and simultaneously launched with it DirecTV in-flight television along with a new company livery. Frontier Airlines was the launch customer[13] of the Airbus A318 in 2003. In mid-April 2005, Frontier officially became an all-Airbus fleet, retiring its last Boeing 737.

As part of its plan to stay competitive in reaction to the entry of Southwest Airlines into Denver, the company underwent a reorganization early in 2006. On April 3, 2006, Frontier created Frontier Airlines Holdings (FRNT), a holding company incorporated in Delaware to take advantage of favorable tax laws in that state. The corporate headquarters did not leave Colorado.[14]

On January 11, 2007, Frontier Airlines signed an 11-year service agreement with Republic Airlines. Under the agreement, Republic was to operate 17, 76-seat Embraer 170 aircraft for the former Frontier JetExpress operations. At the time the contract was canceled in April 2008, Republic Airlines operated 11 aircraft for Frontier Airlines, with the remaining six aircraft expected to join the fleet by December 2008. With the integration of Republic aircraft, the 'JetExpress' denotation was removed. Subsequent to the cessation of Horizon's services for Frontier in December 2007, all flights operated by Republic were sold and marketed as "Frontier Airlines, operated by Republic Airlines." The first market created specifically for the Embraer 170 was Louisville, Kentucky, which began on April 1, 2007. Service to Louisville was suspended in August 2008 but restarted in April 2010.

On January 24, 2007, Frontier was designated as a major carrier by the United States Department of Transportation.[15]

Flights operated by Republic Airlines offered in-flight snack and beverage services similar to Frontier's mainline flights. Unlike Frontier's aircraft and due to the nature of contracting with regional carriers, these Embraer 170 aircraft were not fitted with LiveTV.

Bankruptcy and acquisition by Republic

On April 10, 2008, Frontier filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in reaction to the intent of its credit card processor, First Data, to withhold significant proceeds from ticket sales. First Data decided that it would withhold 100% of the carrier's proceeds from ticket sales beginning May 1.[16] According to Frontier's press release, "This change in practice would have represented a material change to our cash forecasts and business plan. Unchecked, it would have put severe restraints on Frontier's liquidity..." Its operation continued uninterrupted, though, as Chapter 11 bankruptcy protected the corporation's assets and allowed restructuring to ensure long-term viability.

After months of losses, Frontier Airlines reported that they made their first profit during the month of November 2008. Frontier Airlines reported $2.9 million in net income during the month of November.[17]

On June 22, 2009, Frontier Airlines announced that pending bankruptcy court approval, Republic Airways Holdings, the Indianapolis-based parent company of Republic Airlines, would acquire all assets of Frontier Airlines for the amount of $108 million. Thus, Frontier Airlines would become a wholly owned subsidiary of Republic.[18] However, 5 weeks later on July 30, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines announced that it would be making a competing bid of $113.6 million for Frontier with intentions to also operate Frontier as a wholly owned subsidiary, but that it would gradually fold Frontier resources into current Southwest operating assets.[19]

During a bankruptcy auction on August 13, 2009, Republic Airways Holdings acquired Frontier Airlines and its regional airline, Lynx Aviation, as wholly owned subsidiaries.[20] Republic completed the transaction on October 1, 2009, and Frontier officially exited bankruptcy as a new airline.[21]

In late 2009 Republic began to consolidate administrative positions and moved 140 jobs from the Frontier Airlines Denver headquarters to Indianapolis, Indiana.[22] Shortly after that, in January 2010, Republic Airways announced that it will move all of its executives to Indianapolis.[23] In February the Denver Business Journal stated that the headquarters would be moved "soon."[24] Despite this, according to the Denver Business Journal, Frontier Airlines will still maintain a local headquarters in Denver to house Training, Marketing, Customer Reservations, and Scheduling & Planning teams after extending its lease on the building through 2020.

In 2010, Frontier's then-CEO Bryan Bedford took part in the TV show Undercover Boss.[25]

Merger with Midwest Airlines

As Republic Airways Holdings was in the process of bidding to acquire Frontier in 2009, it was also in the process of acquiring Milwaukee-based Midwest Airlines. Through the fall and winter of 2009, Republic operated its two new acquisitions as separate brands. However, to improve efficiency by better matching aircraft capacity to route demand, Republic began to intermix the fleets of the two airlines, swapping a portion of its higher-capacity planes from Frontier with its smaller-capacity planes from Midwest and vice versa. However, the move caused some confusion amongst the public, as the two brands did not offer the same amenities and did not match the amenities mentioned on the airfare. As a result, in the Spring of 2010, Frontier and Midwest Airlines announced that their brands would merge, with Frontier being the surviving brand.[26] This was a merger of brands only—no Midwest Airlines aircraft was ever operated by Frontier, as by this time, all Midwest Airlines flights were operated on its behalf by other Republic Airways Holdings subsidiaries.

On April 13, 2011, Frontier formed a new subsidiary, Frontier Express, that was planned to operate the airline's smaller aircraft with different services than those available on full-size aircraft.[27]


Closing Milwaukee Hub

After merging with Midwest Airlines, Frontier cut 11 out of its 18 flights leaving a total of just 7 from MKE to Denver, Orlando, Rhinelander and Washington-National.[28] At its peak, Frontier operated around 50-80 flights from Milwaukee daily.

On September 9, 2011, Frontier notified the public of a 40% reduction of arriving and departing flights from MKE. Along with this reduction of flights, the company laid off approximately 140 employees from the MKE station. This includes but is not limited to: maintenance, grooming services, flight-line and gate.[29]

In February 2012, Frontier Airlines cut five nonstop routes from Milwaukee. This move "reduced Frontier's daily departing flights out of Mitchell International from 32 to 18," or 56%. Frontier announced further layoffs in conjunction with this route change: up to 446 Milwaukee-area employees were affected by the job cuts that occurred between April 15 and April 30, 2012.[30]

Republic Airways spinoff of Frontier

In an effort to focus on regional contract flights for major carriers, Republic Airways Holdings announced in January 2012 its intention to sell or spin off Frontier.[11][31] On January 26, 2012, Republic Airways Holdings appointed former US Airways and Gate Gourmet CEO David Siegel as President and CEO of Frontier Airlines. Republic also added new senior officers for Frontier’s finance and commercial team, among other changes in the executive leadership team. Siegel and other Frontier executives moved to Denver where Frontier is headquartered in order to facilitate management of all aspects of Frontier during its separation process from Republic and continue its transformation into an ultra-low-cost carrier.[8]

Trenton and Wilmington bases

In November 2012, Frontier started low-frequency service between Orlando International Airport and Trenton–Mercer Airport near Trenton, New Jersey,[32] which, at the time, had no commercial service. Frontier later expanded service several times from Trenton, and as of June 2014 services 17 destinations. Frontier currently bases three aircraft in Trenton. Trenton Mercer Airport lies roughly equidistant between Philadelphia International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport.

In July 2013, Frontier started service from New Castle Airport near Wilmington, Delaware to five destinations,[33] which Frontier markets as Wilmington/Philadelphia. Again, this airport had no commercial service prior to Frontier's entry. New Castle Airport lies roughly 30 miles southwest of Philadelphia International Airport and 75 miles northeast of Baltimore–Washington International Airport.

Frontier markets both Trenton-Mercer and Wilmington-Philadelphia airports as low-cost, low-hassle alternatives to the existing nearby commercial airports. Frontier remains the only commercial carrier at these two airports.

In June 2014, Frontier Airlines opened a crew base for flight attendants at Trenton–Mercer Airport.[34]

In January 2015, Frontier Airlines cut several flights from Wilmington and Trenton. It also resumed service to Philadelphia, casting doubt on the airline's existing bases.[35][36] In late June 2015, Frontier announced it had ceased service in Wilmington, stating it was not profitable.[37]

Acquisition by Indigo Partners

In October 2013, Republic Airways Holdings entered into an agreement with private equity firm Indigo Partners to sell Frontier Airlines for approximately $145 million. According to Indigo, the transaction would further Frontier’s evolution into an ultra-low-cost carrier.[11] In December 2013, Indigo Partners LLC, through an affiliate, completed the purchase of the Frontier Airlines from Republic Airways Holdings. The airline's headquarters will remain in Denver.[38] Republic Airways Holdings subsidiary Republic Airlines no longer flies Embraer 190 aircraft on behalf of Frontier, as of January 1, 2014.

In 2014, Frontier announced it would be transitioning into an ultra-low cost carrier.[39] Frontier will also cut several flights and jobs at their Denver hub and transition them to different markets. On January 16, 2015 Frontier announced that it will close both its Denver and Milwaukee call centers, laying off 1,300 employees and outsourcing the jobs to call center company, Sitel.[40]

In May 2015, Indigo and Frontier announced the departure of David Siegel as CEO. He had already previously turned over the role of president to Barry Biffle, formerly of Spirit Airlines. Siegel was not immediately replaced. Instead, his duties were split between Biffle and Indigo chairman Bill Franke. Biffle cited operational issues in connection with Siegel's departure.[41]

Slimline Seats

In mid 2015, Frontier Airlines announced that they will be installing slimline seats into all of their aircraft. Main cabin seats will not recline. Instead, Frontier will market new "stretch" exit row seats for an additional charge. There will not be any television in any of the seats. The middle seats are slightly wider than the window and aisle seats.

2015 Service

In February 2015, Frontier announced that they will start service to several destinations from Atlanta. In July, Frontier also began decreasing service from Dulles International Airport removing the airport from being a focus city. In August 2015, Frontier Airlines joined Spirit and Allegiant by removing their toll-free telephone number for customer service. [42]

Possible merger

Frontier Airlines and sister airline, Spirit Airlines have recently been in talks about a possible merger. [43][44] Robert L. Fornaro, CEO of Spirit has foreshadowed a merger between the 2 airlines to create one large, strong ultra-low cost carrier. [45] Bob Fornaro previously worked on merging AirTran Airways and Southwest Airlines in 2011. [46] Both carriers are currently competitors in the ultra-low fare airline market. [47] If the merger were to take place, the combined carrier would likely take on the Frontier Airlines name. [48]

Former Regional Carriers

Frontier Express Embraer ERJ-145 operated by Chautauqua

Frontier Express

Chautauqua Airlines operated up to 12 Embraer 135 and 145 jets out of Milwaukee. Frontier began branding these flights as Frontier Express in the spring of 2011. With the pull-down of the Milwaukee hub, the only route that continued to operate with a Frontier Express ERJ-145 jet was Milwaukee to Rhinelander. However, Frontier service to Rhinelander ended on January 3, 2013, and Chautauqua is transferring the remaining aircraft to other partners.

Frontier JetExpress

In February 2002, the airline launched its first regional product, Frontier JetExpress, initially operated by Mesa Airlines using CRJ-200 regional jets. Similar to "express" operations of other carriers, Frontier JetExpress was targeted for markets to and from Denver that do not generate traffic sufficient to support Frontier's smallest mainline jet, the Airbus A318, but could still offer lucrative business with a smaller jet.

The initial JetExpress partnership with Mesa ended in January 2004, when Horizon Air was selected to operate the routes. Horizon utilized slightly larger CRJ-700 aircraft on these routes. In August 2006, Frontier and Horizon ended their partnership.[49] While Frontier was generally pleased with Horizon's operation, the carrier decided that it needed to revisit the agreement and find a provider with additional regional jets to grow the operation. The last of the CRJ-700's was returned to the Horizon Air fleet on November 30, 2007.

Denver International Airport's Pedestrian Bridge, with many Frontier and Lynx Aviation aircraft in the foreground

Lynx Aviation

On September 6, 2006, Frontier created a new division of the holding company, known as Lynx Aviation, to operate Bombardier Q400 aircraft beginning in May 2007.[50] On December 5, 2007, Lynx Aviation received its operating certificate from the FAA. Lynx began passenger operations on the morning of December 6, 2007.

After commencing operations, Lynx added service to 12 regional destinations: Albuquerque, Aspen, Billings, Bozeman, Colorado Springs, Durango, Fargo, Jackson Hole (Seasonal), Oklahoma City, Rapid City, Tulsa, and Wichita. Two additional cities, Omaha and Salt Lake City, were served by Lynx Aviation along with Frontier Airlines mainline service.

In 2012, the Lynx Aviation operation was folded into Republic Airways Holdings subsidiary Republic Airlines. The remaining Q400 aircraft were withdrawn from Frontier service and placed in service for United Airlines.

Maverick Airways

In 1997, Maverick Airways was operating code share service for Frontier with de Havilland Canada DHC-7 Dash 7 STOL capable turboprops between Denver (DEN) and two destinations in Colorado: Grand Junction (GJT) and Steamboat Springs (SBS).[51] However, the service was short lived as Maverick encountered financial challenges and then ceased all flights.


Frontier Airlines currently flies to 55 destinations throughout Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico and the United States. In 2016 Frontier will begin service to four new destinations Pittsburgh International Airport, San Antonio International Airport, Port Columbus International Airport and Colorado Springs Airport. As of December 2014, Frontier also operates Charter flights to several international destinations in a partnership with Apple Vacations.

Codeshare agreement

Frontier Airlines has a codeshare agreement with Great Lakes Airlines, connecting flights through Denver and Phoenix.[52]


As of December 24, 2015, the Frontier Airlines fleet consists of the following aircraft:[53]

Frontier Airlines fleet
Aircraft Active Orders Passengers Notes
Airbus A319-100 33 150 Older aircraft to be retired; newer aircraft to get slimline seats
Airbus A319neo 18 158 Deliveries begin 2016[54]
Airbus A320-200 23 2 180
Airbus A320neo 62 180 Deliveries begin 2016[54]
Airbus A321-200 5 14 230 Deliveries began October, 2015[54]
Total 61 96
Retired Fleet
Aircraft Replacement Year Retired
Airbus A318-100[1] A320-200 2013
Embraer E-170 A320-200 2013
Embraer E-190 A320-200 2013
Boeing 737-200[2] A318-100 2004
Boeing 737-300[3] A319-100 2005

Frontier Airlines was the launch customer of the Airbus A318, but all 11 of its A318s were retired, 10 which were parted out for scrap by 2013.[55] During the 2011 Paris Air Show, Republic Airways Holdings ordered 60 A320neo aircraft and 20 A319neo aircraft for Frontier.[54] In 2014 the airline ordered 9 Airbus A321ceos.[56]

Row of Frontier airplanes at Denver International Airport


Until 2013, Frontier Airlines livery consisted of an all-white fuselage with "FRONTIER" titles on the sides of the aircraft, and the company's former slogan "A Whole Different Animal". Frontier used wildlife photography on the vertical stabilizers and winglets of the aircraft to produce a distinctive look.[57] In April 2013, Frontier introduced a new livery,[58] keeping the iconic animals on aircraft tails, but dropping its former slogan and replacing "FRONTIER" with "FLYFRONTIER.COM", the company's website, in support of new marketing that almost exclusively focuses on Aircraft in the old livery now feature "FLYFRONTIER.COM" titles on engine nacelles.

Animal concepts used in the livery extend into Frontier’s marketing as well. Each animal has a specific name.[59] Animal aircraft used in their radio and television commercials include Jack the rabbit, Grizwald the bear, Foxy the fox (for whom Jack has a crush), Flip the dolphin (who always gets stuck going to Chicago rather than the warmer climates the others are going to), Larry the lynx, Hector the sea otter, and Sal the cougar. New additions are Penguins Jim, Joe, Jay, and Gary, a barbershop-style quartet, singing the praises of EarlyReturns to an audience of Frontier’s well-known characters from the "a whole different animal" campaign, Hector the otter, advertising Frontier's expanding service to Mexico, and Polly the Parrot, who won the new animal audition in 2012.

On September 9, 2014, Frontier introduced an updated livery,[60] as part of a rebranding that will see the spokesanimals' roles increase. The new livery reintroduces a green "FRONTIER" typeface to the fuselage, featuring the stylized "F" designed by Saul Bass for original Frontier in 1978. Each aircraft will feature the name of the animal featured on its tail near the nose of the aircraft for easier identification. Currently ten aircraft in the Frontier fleet feature the new livery.

Frequent flyer program

The airline has a frequent-flyer program called EarlyReturns. It does not partner with any other airlines for cross-crediting of frequent flyer mileage credits.

See also


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  23. 1
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External links