Knoxville, Provo and Sioux Falls

Frontier Airlines has announced new services to Knoxville, Provo and Sioux Falls using the A319 for the former and the E170/190 jets for the latter cities last week.  Each will receive service from its Denver hub.  In addition, Frontier is adding additional service to Minneapolis / St. Paul and San Antonion from Kansas City which are both cities it already serves from Denver. 

I genuinely like the Embraer E170/190 jets for service to smaller cities as it offers a mainline type service to cities that traditionally would be served by cramped 50 seat regional jets used by other airlines.  It’s a nice service product and Frontier’s owner, Republic, gets to remain flexibile in how it deploys its fleet of those jets. 

I do wonder if Frontier isn’t kind of dancing out of the way of real competition though.  Its newest routes don’t strike me as something the airline is doing to fight against its LCC competition out there.  Nor do these new routes strike me as low hangling fruit for an airline like Frontier as well.  For instance, while I can understand flights from Provo and Sioux Falls to Denver, I struggle with the idea that there is a great deal of demand in Knoxville for a route that goes to Denver even if traffic can flow ownwards to other destinations.

As much as Frontier is a western states airline, it does seem to somewhat ignore opportunities on the west coast where it would seem its service product ought to thrive against the competition.   Mostly I’m struggling to see the strategy here.  2010 was definitely a “rebuilding” year for Frontier and perhaps its plans will become more clear as 2011 unravels.

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