Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Frontier Airlines Abandons Sacramento International Airport - KTXL


Frontier Airlines has decided to end service to Sacramento International Airport in January.

The airline has been at the airport for nearly ten years. One reason is that gate fees don't mesh with how the airline may want to position itself after a merger with Midwest Airlines didn't work out. Frontier is headed toward becoming an ultra-low-cost carrier.

"That business model is really not that conducive to this market," said Linda Beech Cutler, the Sacramento County Airport Systems Deputy Director for Commercial Strategy.

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Cutler said Frontier flies only to Denver and makes up just three percent of its passengers.

"Southwest, United and United Express also provide very robust service to Denver so our passengers will hopefully not feel a loss of service," said Cutler.

Cutler says it's more expensive to operate out of Sac International because airline fees were raised to cover the $1 billion cost of building a new terminal.  Frontier has been dropping flights from lager cities and adding flights to smaller markets in older airports. Sacramento is not the only city that Frontier dropped.

Donna Van Hoose, who has taken Frontier many times to Denver and back, says she's sorry to see service end.

"It leaves you with less choice and to get a cheaper flight," said Van Hoose.

Cutler acknowledges that it's more expensive for airlines to operate out of Sacramento International, but says they have no regrets about the upgrade.

"It was an investment we needed to make and it was for the long term," said Cutler.

Some passengers agree.  Irum Ahsan grew up in Sacramento.

"I think the population is just going to keep growing and if they hadn't built it, it would make it really hard to keep up,” said Ahsan.

Cutler said the airline industry can be volatile and that airlines do come and go.  She said it was hard to lose Frontier, but said Mexican airline Volaris announced two weeks ago that it will start service to Sacramento.

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