CLEVELAND: Amid all the disappointment over United Airlines’ decision to shutter its hub at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Frontier Airlines announced Thursday that it will be adding nonstop flights at the airport.
Frontier Airlines, known for its ultra-low fare service, had announced a couple of months ago that it would bring nonstop flights to Trenton, N.J.
But at Thursday’s ribbon cutting event attended by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Frontier Senior Vice President Commercial Daniel Shurz announced that in addition to the Trenton service, the airline would add year-round nonstop service to Orlando and seasonal nonstop service to Seattle beginning June 13.
As a promotional discount, Frontier will offer introductory fares of $69 each way to Orlando and $119 each way to Seattle, through Monday. To enjoy these low fares, passengers must book the flights on the company’s website, www.flyfrontier.com.
“With the launch of service to Trenton-Mercer Airport today and the addition of these two routes in June, Northeast Ohioans now have an ultra-low fare option to get to both the East and West Coast with Frontier,” Shurz said.
“We are extremely pleased Frontier is connecting Trenton to Cleveland today,” airport Director Ricky Smith said. “This is even a greater day for consumers as Frontier has announced they will add frequencies to their current Denver nonstop service as well as beginning new flights to Orlando and Seattle.
“Seattle is one of the markets we lost with United’s decision to pull down the hub, and Orlando is one of the region’s top leisure markets,” he said.
Will other airlines move in to fill the void?
“For years we’ve been working with prospective airlines to introduce or grow service here,” Smith said. “And those airlines who were on the fence are now talking to us far more seriously because of United pulling out. We expect more announcements like this from Frontier and other carriers in the not-so-distant future.”
Shurz expects travel to the added destinations to pick up.
“To some extent, travel is a discretionary purchase; you have to choose between an iPad or taking a trip. So price becomes critical,” he said. “If you can offer low fares, people want to travel. So what we do is make it affordable.”
Shurz said Frontier has been able to provide low fares because it has “focused consistently on controlling costs.”
“We use airplanes more intensively. We have our planes flying over 12 hours a day over the summer,” he said. “We put more seats on airplanes. United flies A320s with 144 to 150 seats; we fly 168 seats. More seats gives a lower cost per seat.”
Shurz said he did not expect an airline hub to return to Cleveland.
“If you look across other U.S. cities where hubs have closed, in no case has that hub come back. Look at Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Memphis. In every case, new service came to those cities and filled in,” he said, “but it was not a hub returning.”
Shurz said that for people who live in Northeast Ohio, having a hub might have offered more direct destinations. But the trade-off for being a hub was higher fares. Now because fares are designed for local travel here rather than connecting flights, he said, prices will be lower.
Frontier Airlines has been in business for 20 years and flies to more than 75 destinations in the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. The airline, with its primary hub in Denver, employs more than 3,800 people.
Daryl Rowland can be emailed at email@example.com.