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A Frontier A320 in Phoenix (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Frontier Airlines Adds New Flights from Burbank, Ontario

On Thursday, Frontier Airlines unveiled plans to add a new destination to its route network:  Burbank, California. From the airport, the ultra-low-cost carrier will serve three destinations in the Western United States, including Denver, Las Vegas and Phoenix. Additionally, Frontier will build upon its LA-Ontario basin portfolio, connecting Atlanta to Ontario, California.

From Burbank, Frontier Airlines will offer daily services to its largest base in Denver, a smaller base in Las Vegas and a sizable presence in Phoenix from July 15, 2021. The secondary airport in the Los Angeles area will be the fourth destination in Southern California for the airline.

“We’re excited to add Hollywood Burbank Airport to our route map with nonstop Denver, Las Vegas and Phoenix flights this summer,” said Josh Flyr, vice president of network and operational design, Frontier Airlines. “Frontier offers a robust flight schedule in Southern California and the addition of Burbank will provide an even more convenient and easy to use option for many in the region seeking affordable fares and friendly service to a variety of popular destinations.”

Meanwhile, in Ontario, Frontier Airlines plans to add a new route to Atlanta, starting on July 16, 2021. The flight will operate four times a week, using an Airbus A320 family aircraft. Additionally, the Denver-based airline intends to offer additional flights to Denver, increasing its offering from several flights a week to eleven flights a week.

Competition-wise, Frontier Airlines will face competition from Delta Air Lines on its Atlanta to Ontario flight. Meanwhile, the increase of frequencies to Denver sees existing competition from Southwest and United.

Recovery of Burbank

From Burbank, Frontier Airlines encounters competition from Southwest and United on flights to Denver. Meanwhile, on flights to Las Vegas, the airline faces pressure from business-class airline JSX, Southwest, and fellow ultra-low-cost peer Spirit. Finally, on flights to Phoenix, Frontier sees direct competition from American and JSX and indirect competition from new US-startup Avelo.

Avelo Airlines operated its first flight last month, amid the planned launch of 11 new destinations from Burbank. Some of these routes are now facing increasing competition for the fledgling low-cost carrier.

After the move, American Airlines pounced on Avelo’s Burbank to Phoenix-Mesa route, up gauging its five daily flights from Phoenix Sky Harbor on Canadair CRJ900 regional jets to Airbus A319 in the fall. The move will double the number of available seats on the route, challenging Avelo’s entrance into the market. 

Later, Alaska Airlines announced flights from Santa Rosa, California to Burbank, Avelo’s inaugural route, starting in June. Now, Frontier is upping the pressure on Avelo’s Burbank to Phoenix-Mesa flight via its flight from Burbank to Phoenix.

Even with the route additions, Burbank is still in recovery from the pandemic. According to OAG, seat capacity in July 2021 is down 31.5% from July 2019. The decrease in traffic motivated Avelo to start a base at the secondary Los Angeles area airport and Frontier to add flights from the airport.

Positive Outlook for Frontier

On Thursday, Frontier unveiled its first-quarter earnings of 2021. It lost $94 million in Quarter 1, compared to a loss of $64 million the year before. However, the company believes it saw a rebound in leisure traffic, before the spring break/Easter season, leading the airline to be cash positive in March. Frontier Airlines expects to return to profitability in the second half of 2021.

“This is our first quarter reporting as a public company and we couldn’t be more pleased with what we are seeing relative to the recovery in leisure travel,” said Barry Biffle, Frontier’s president and CEO. “We believe our relative cost advantage driven by financial discipline coupled with our focus on leisure travel positions us well to be among the airline industry leaders as demand for leisure travel continues to rebound. In addition, we diligently limited the amount of debt added to our balance sheet while maintaining a strong liquidity position.” 

Biffle added, “We are well poised to take advantage of the recovery and expect to return to profitability in the second half of 2021.”

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