Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Frontier Airlines leaving Wichita due to "under performance"


 (WICHITA, Kan.)— 

Frontier airlines announces it's pulling out of Mid-Continent Airport. It’s disappointing news for the airport, and passengers who rely on the fares to fly west. In Frontier’s five years in Wichita, many customers think of Frontier as the go-to airline when flying west.

 “It's a pretty good airline because I've flown them several times out west to California, Colorado, and they were a pretty cheap airline,” said airline passenger Michael Barr.

In the near future flying in that direction could cost you more. Come November Frontier is pulling it's business at Mid-Continent.

 “I'm very unhappy, very angry that this is going to happen because it's the only way for us to get in unless we fly into Kansas City,” said airline passenger Margaret Rauh.

Frontier points to underperformance in this market especially during the winter months. Though Mid-Continent representative Valerie Wise says its planes are fuller than ever.

“Last year their average load factor was 85% and the previous year according to my records, 81% which are respectable loads, but airlines will tell you just because you have strong load factors doesn't mean you have profitability,” said Wise.

Frontier has had it's share of financial woes, filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy after it opened for business at Mid-Continent back in 2007.

“During their start of service here, they started out great and then they had to deal with the fuel prices and the economic downtown.  When you start a service in a new market, it's tough as it is being a new airline,” said Wise.

Frontier may be leaving, but low cost competitor Southwest could start service soon. Wise says that could be a key factor in Frontier's decision to leave.

“I think Frontier has made the decision to put their resources into markets where there's less competitive situation,” said Wise.

So while passengers in Wichita lose one low cost option they could gain another. Mid-Continent says no word on when Southwest will start it's service. Frontier says it will contact passengers already booked on flights about re-booking their trips. Frontier Airlines will stop business here after November 15th.

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