Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Frontier Airlines executive: Blue skies ahead at Trenton-Mercer Airport (KTTN), New Jersey

TRENTON — Though the ownership of Frontier Airlines is close to changing, Mercer County can expect the airline’s presence to continue to grow, a top executive told a crowd in Trenton today.

Daniel Shurz, a senior vice president at Frontier, said the airline saw great potential in the region when it chose to begin flying out of Trenton-Mercer Airport, and said the future looks bright during a luncheon sponsored by the Mid-Jersey Chamber of Commerce as part of Trenton’s Small Business Week.

“We don’t think anyone has approached this airport the right way before,” Shurz said.

There is a huge potential market for flights in the area, but it is important to focus on routes that will have a high volume of customers and less low-cost competition, Shurz said. By doing this, Frontier has tapped into an underserved market, he said.

“This is the most densely populated area in the country. There are 2.5 million people that live closer to Trenton-Mercer Airport than to any other airport with commercial service,” Shurz said.

That is comparable to population of the Denver area, where Frontier is based; an area that sees more than 700 flights a day, Shurz said. Customers can be in the terminal in Ewing 20 minutes after they leave their homes, Shurz said.

One challenge Trenton-Mercer has presented Frontier with is that the airport was not active with another commercial airline recently, Shurz said.

“We’ve marketed this airline and the airport,” Shurz said. “We’re getting more people to try the airport,” Shurz said.

In addition, it has been more difficult to measure success through the first year because Frontier is not as accustomed to setting up in an airport that does not already have commercial flights, he said. The company has, however, exceeded the goals that it set for the area.

“This has been a region that is, in a sense, crying out for lower fares,” Shurz said. “And the initial reaction suggests the future is bright.”

Shurz said that the airline will likely continue to expand at Trenton-Mercer, but he would not say if the company has any solid plans for new destinations beyond the recently announced additions of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Charlotte, N.C.

The airline, which has suspended service during a project to renovate the airport’s main runway, terminal, and parking lots, is scheduled to resume service in Mercer on Nov. 8 and has already begun selling flights for that date on its website.

“We keep telling the airport that whatever additional capacity they make available, we’ll keep putting more planes in to use up the capacity,” Shurz said.

Frontier is hesitant about flying up to the Boston area because it is less that a 5-hour drive, and that tends to reduce the demand for flights, but the airline has considered it, Shurz said.

The airline is also looking at how it can build a direct flight to Denver into the future plans at Trenton-Mercer, Shurz said, not only because the city is a great destination but also because it would present customers with the opportunity to take advantage of many connecting flights. Frontier is based in Denver and a direct flight from Trenton-Mercer to Denver would open connections as far as California, Alaska and Cancun.

As the airline nears a sale which would land it under the ownership of Indigo Partners, a firm that is associated with the budget-priced Spirit Airlines, some members of the audience questioned whether that would affect the way it operates.

“Fundamentally we’re known for being a reliable, friendly airline, and we want to continue to be a reliable, friendly airline,” Shurz said.

Frontier is different than Spirit, Shurz said, but the company would like to get their costs on par with Spirit’s.

Frontier is already charging some customers for carry-on baggage and for seat assignments. Shurz said that the most likely change would be an expansion of these policies, but he does not expect much more of an effect to customer experience.

Story and Comments/Reaction:

No comments:

Post a Comment