Frontier Airlines announced today that it will provide its low-cost flights to Northwest Arkansas passengers hungry for affordable fares, starting this summer.
The airline’s decision to offer nonstop flights between the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport and Denver is considered a huge win for the region’s business and leisure travelers. The airline has a history of offering some of the lowest fares in the airline industry.
There were simultaneous news conferences in Denver and Northwest Arkansas today as XNA will be Frontier’s 100th nonstop destination from its Denver hub. Frontier Airlines CEO Barry Biffle and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock provided the news at the Denver event.
The first Frontier flight to XNA from Denver takes off in the early afternoon of June 27. It’ll leave XNA for Denver just before 6 p.m. The airline is offering $39 one-way introductory fares.
“We are proud to bring our unique brand of Low Fares Done Right to Northwest Arkansas,” said Jonathon Nield, the airline’s senior manager of network planning. “We will make air travel more accessible and more affordable for everyone in the Bentonville/Fayetteville community, making it easier for people to fly and for people to fly more often.”
The Northwest Arkansas Council and administrators at the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport started working more closely to lure a low-cost carrier to XNA. The Council’s goal was to reduce fares by creating competition, and a low-cost carrier such as Frontier Airlines should help.
To accomplish that goal, the Council joined the XNA team at national airline recruitment conferences such as Jumpstart and Routes America, having conversations with airlines about providing service to XNA. The business travel information collected by the Northwest Arkansas Council and shared with the airlines has helped demonstrate how important excellent air service is to Northwest Arkansas travelers.
“The Northwest Arkansas Council set a goal of attracting low-cost air service to XNA to create competition, and we’ll be working hard to ensure that people living here prioritize Frontier when making air travel decisions,” said Nelson Peacock, the Northwest Arkansas Council’s president and CEO.
The conversations with potential new air service providers at XNA became more advanced as multiple low-cost carriers have noticed the rapidly rising number of XNA passengers. Additionally, those low-cost providers saw Allegiant Air, American, Delta and United gradually increasing their services at XNA, demonstrating that the region was one where air service could be expanded.
What a low-cost carrier means to XNA is clear: It’ll be providing flights that more Northwest Arkansas travelers can afford. The airline’s arrival should release what some have described as the region’s “pent-up demand,” people who want to use airlines to make leisure trips but who choose not to fly at all because flights from XNA can be expensive.
While Frontier should find success at XNA, it will take a combination of factors for that to happen. The airline will need to capture some of that pent-up demand, and it should gain the business of leisure travelers who are currently driving to Tulsa, Kansas City or Dallas/Fort Worth to find low-cost flights.
The impact of Frontier should be significant. Roundtrip fares from XNA average more than $500; Frontier’s presence should reduce that average by creating competition for American, Delta and United.
Pictured at the top: Blake Woolsey, the chair of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport Authority Board of Directors, at a news conference today emphasized the importance of travelers using new Frontier Airlines flights from XNA to Denver. More than 100 people attended today’s announcement.