Frontier Airlines is leaving Akron-Canton Airport and moving all Northeast Ohio service to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.
The move is a consolidation of operations and an opportunity to gain a new market, said Lindsey Carpenter, a Frontier spokeswoman.
Frontier already operates two charter flights to Cancun, Mexico, and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, out of Hopkins, Carpenter said.
“There are some cost savings. Hopkins doesn’t have low-fare service to Denver in the West,” Carpenter said.
And while Southwest Airlines flies out of both Hopkins and Akron-Canton, it does not have a Denver nonstop out of Hopkins, Carpenter said.
Hopkins spokeswoman Jackie Mayo said United Airlines does fly three times a day to Denver from Cleveland.
Kristie Van Auken, Akron-Canton Airport’s senior vice president and chief marketing communications officer, said the airport is sad to see Frontier go but has a strong future in its newest partner, Southwest, which does fly nonstop to Denver from Akron-Canton.
“Frontier had a 93 percent load factor through this point of the year. That means 93 percent of the seats were filled. In August, there was a 98 percent load factor,” Van Auken said. “This clearly was not a demand issue. The community supported them.
“The good news is we have a stronger partner in Southwest. We haven’t lost nonstop service to Denver.
“Southwest goes to Denver and has low fares. We have access to the West because Southwest has a phenomenal network to the West. As sad as we are to see [Frontier] go, the great news for customers is they are still going to be able to fly out West aboard other carriers.”
Frontier, with planes that sport photos of animals on the tail, arrived at Akron-Canton, the carrier’s first Ohio destination, with much fanfare in March 2005.
Van Auken said Frontier helped the airport develop westbound demand from Akron-Canton and Northeast Ohio.
“We were great partners for 6½ years, but really our future is with Southwest,” she said. “They have a lot more opportunities to add nonstop flights, and they have more resources. We wish [Frontier] the best. We see a very, very bright positive future.”
Southwest arrived at Akron-Canton in early August and has two daily flights to Chicago’s Midway Airport and one daily flight to Denver.
Said Carpenter: “We’ve had a wonderful relationship with Akron-Canton. It really is about cost efficiencies.”
Frontier will cease operations at Akron-Canton on Jan. 6 and start its new Denver flight at Hopkins on Jan. 9.
The four weekly flights will be on different days.
The Denver-to-Cleveland flights will operate Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, leaving at 4:30 p.m. and arriving at 9:20 p.m.
The Cleveland-to-Denver flights will operate Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, leaving at 5:50 p.m. and arriving at 7:20 p.m.
Mayo, the Hopkins spokeswoman, said the airport is eager to offer more service to the Rocky Mountain area.
“We’re excited to have them on board. We welcome them to the airline family,” she said.
Pamela Proctor, a Jackson Township resident, learned about Frontier’s departure from Akron-Canton on Monday morning when she tried to book a February flight to San Diego. “I’m very disappointed,” she said. “I loved the airline. I think they’re just fabulous. It’s been so wonderful going out of Akron-Canton.”
While Proctor said she got accustomed to using Frontier because she had an airline credit card and liked the convenience, she’s happy Southwest is an option at Akron-Canton to go west.
“If [Frontier] had just gone and we had nothing, oh, my gosh, I would have really been upset,” she said.
Close to home
Proctor said she likes having good fares and the convenience of Akron-Canton. She used to fly more out of Hopkins when there was a bus that could take her to the airport, but nowadays, she and friends want to use the airport closer to home.
“I feel Akron-Canton Airport is just wonderful for we people in this area,” she said.