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Frontier Sees Future in Alternative Airports, to Sunset LAX Service

A Frontier A320neo landing in Las Vegas. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Following the news that the airline will launch flights to Ontario and Burbank, Frontier has decided to pull out of its longstanding presence at Los Angeles International Airport. According to CrankyFlier, the airline has been operating out of Terminal 5 with a planned move to the new Midfield Satellite Concourse originally in the cards. But as the airline reviews its presence and costs, it has decided for the time being to vacate the largest airport in the area as it pursues opportunities in nearby airfields.

Los Angeles was the first airport in the area that the airline served with flights dating all the way back to the airline’s founding in the 1990s. A single route to its hub in Denver would be the mainstay for the Southern California market until the airline would add Orange County in the mid-2000s. The Orange County route would mirror that of the preexisting Los Angeles route with a single route to Denver. The route map would mostly go untouched until Fronter made the transition to an ultra-low-cost carrier in the 2010s as expansions would come to provide new routes with Los Angeles and Orange County being the end leisure market as well as onboarding Ontario into the airline’s strategy.

This brings us to today, where the airline is viewing the loss of Los Angeles as replaceable via alternative airports. Flights from Los Angeles will wind down seasonal flights to Philadelphia and Phoenix as well as Las Vegas ending July 14. Atlanta will terminate on September 8th leaving Denver and Orlando service to carry on alone until the final pullout on October 1.

Of the routes lost, only Philadelphia has not been given an alternative home. Passengers still looking to utilize the once branded “Whole Different Animal” will have to look to Ontario International Airport for flights to Atlanta, which begins in July well before the LAX flight terminates. Furthermore, Denver, Las Vegas and Phoenix are the initial markets that Frontier will fly from when it launches Burbank operations on July 15th. Most equipment will remain the same as Airbus A320neos will handle the workload to and from the replacement routes.

Since fully committing to the ultra-low-cost strategy in the mid-2010s, Frontier has tested the waters in various markets trying to get an increased presence at alternative airports to push demand out of more expensive primary airports. Its more notable success has come in Trenton as the airline operates services to 15 markets. That has not stopped the Denver-based airline from still pressuring legacy brands at primary airports as Miami and Chicago O’Hare have seen growth from Frontier in recent years.

Losing Frontier does little to change the Los Angeles International Airport’s portfolio of carriers as Frontier was the smallest of the domestic ultra-low-cost airlines operating at LAX. The airline’s route map was entirely overlapping with routes serviced by other airlines and with massive expansions by Spirit and Allegiant coming in the summer will still encourage ULCC traffic at the Southern California airport. Alternatively, Frontier’s new position in Burbank will go headfirst against start-up brand Avelo Air with the new brands even competing on the route to Phoenix, albeit with Avelo opting for Mesa Gateway instead of Sky Harbor.

Ian McMurtry


  • Ian McMurtry

    Although Ian McMurtry was never originally an avgeek, he did enjoy watching US Airways aircraft across western Pennsylvania in the early 2000s. He lived along the Pennsylvania Railroad and took a liking to trains but a change of scenery in the mid-2000s saw him shift more of an interest into aviation. He would eventually express this passion by taking flying lessons in mid-Missouri and joining AirlineGeeks in 2013. Now living in Wichita, Kansas, Ian is in college majoring in aerospace engineering and minoring in business administration at Wichita State University.

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