Friday, May 14, 2010

Long Beach's new Frontier

LONG BEACH - Frontier Airlines made its inaugural flight Friday into Long Beach, launching twice-daily trips to Denver and expanding to 15 the number of cities connecting directly to Daugherty Field.

Frontier becomes the fifth major commercial carrier at Long Beach Airport, where passenger volumes have more than tripled since low-cost airline JetBlue made the city its West Coast hub in 2001.

Colorado-based Frontier, founded in 1994, plans to operate 99-seat Embraer 190 and 107-seat Airbus 318 jets on flights scheduled to depart Long Beach at 6:45 a.m. and 11 a.m. daily.

Frontier also began service Friday to Fairbanks, Alaska and Grand Rapids, Mich., from its Denver base.

Frontier and another newcomer, Allegiant Air, which begins flights from Long Beach this summer, fill out the airport's remaining daily commuter slots, capped at 41 under a noise-ordinance program.

The new flights should push annual passenger traffic here above 3 million, drawing in new revenue for the airport, city and area merchants and hotels.

"Attracting a new carrier amidst this tumultuous time in the aviation industry speaks to our fiscal solvency and prime (location)," said Airport Director Mario Rodriguez, who is overseeing a $200-million airport modernization plan through 2013 to help with increasing passenger volumes.

Frontier joins airlines JetBlue, Horizon, Delta and US Air offering daily flights out of Long Beach. The bulk of those, 30, are operated by JetBlue, while Allegiant has signed on to take the remaining two slots, said Airport Spokeswoman Sharon Diggs-Jackson.

Frontier expects its two daily flights to cater to a mix of vacationers and business travelers seeking to avoid crowds at the region's larger, more congested airports.

In the coming weeks, Frontier Airlines will further its push into the West Coast with service between Denver and Santa Barbara, said Daniel Shurz, the carrier's president of strategy and planning.

He said the airline will offer indirect service from Long Beach to more than 70 destinations domestically and in Mexico and Costa Rica, many with a single layover in Denver.

(Press Telegram - Kristopher Hanson)

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