Frontier Clips Its Wings
Local Airport Officials Hopeful Orlando Run’s Suspension Only Temporary
Posted: February 2, 2013
Passengers board the first Frontier Airlines Airbus A319 bound from Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport to Orlando, Fla., in November. After its high-visibility kickoff, the run to Florida is now in limbo. (Photo by Nikki Fox)
The Weyers Cave airport announced on its Facebook page Friday that Frontier would suspend service to and from Orlando International Airport, with the last flights departing April 7.
Since the Denver-based airline began offering three flights in and out per week on Nov. 20, it has not booked flights past that date.
Kate O’Malley, a spokeswoman for Frontier, said no decision has been made about whether service will resume in either the fall or winter, and she did not know when one would be forthcoming.
SVRA officials say demand for the flights seems strong enough that Frontier will be back later in the year. Flights to Orlando were Frontier’s only service out of SVRA.
The airport is “working with them to come back in the fall,” said Greg Campbell, executive director of SVRA.
“There’s no guarantee. They are committed to April,” he said. “At that time, they’ll take a look at how they did in the winter and make a determination.”
Campbell said demand was solid throughout the winter, with flights since mid-December being full or nearly full. Part of Frontier’s appeal comes from one-way flights to Orlando priced as low as $39.
The strong demand bodes well for when Frontier decides in the future whether to resume the service, he said.
“We encourage everyone to use it, so we can be sure they come back,” he said.
In separate interviews, Campbell and O’Malley gave slightly different versions of what happened leading up to the suspension of service.
According to Campbell, Frontier has been running a pilot program to determine what level of service to Florida to offer, and airline officials told the regional airport they’d make a decision by the end of January.
SVRA received notification of the suspension of service this week, Campbell said, adding that it’s not uncommon for Frontier to offer seasonal service.
But O’Malley said the seasonal nature of the route has “been public for quite some time.”
O’Malley, who was unable to say when the information became public, directed questions about the matter to SVRA’s website, which does not say the route would be suspended due to season.
“The demand was good during the off-season, but during the summer, we didn’t have the numbers that it made economic sense,” O’Malley said.
Campbell said Frontier’s experience with Florida flights is that demand trails off after spring break because of the weather.
The suspension of flights from SVRA, he said, is not indicative that the service was unsuccessful.
“I don’t think that’s the case at all with the load being the way it is,” he said. “We believe it’s more an aircraft allocation [issue].”
Contact Jeremy Hunt at 574-6273 or email@example.com