Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Frontier Airlines announced Tuesday it will leave Wichita this fall. Losing the low-cost carrier, which currently offers two daily flights between Wichita and Denver, will mean fewer flights going west and will likely lead to higher ticket prices to those destinations.
Frontier passengers tell KAKE News they like the airline because it offers inexpensive flights and good customer service. Legacy carrier United Airlines was able to charge much more before it had competition on that route. Mid-Continent Air Service Business Development Manager Valerie Wise says United is likely to reinstate those higher prices after Frontier leaves.
"It's Frontier's presence in this market that's keeping the other airline's fares competitive," said Wise.
The move will leave United Airlines as the only airline flying from Wichita through Denver to western destinations. Allegiant operates flights from Wichita to Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Phoenix-Mesa.
Frontier will end its Wichita service on Nov. 16. The company will contact any travelers who have already purchased flights after that date to either offer them flights on other airlines or give them refunds.
Frontier did not request an extension of the annual $500,000 Affordable Air Fares Incentive on July 1, signaling a change was in the air. Frontier spokeswoman Lindsey Carpenter says one reason behind Frontier's departure is below average performance. Wise says Frontier has been doing well in Wichita over the past few years.
"As far as what we could see, the market was supporting them," said Wise.
Frontier's departure could open a door for Southwest Airlines when it starts serving Wichita next year. Southwest has not yet announced its schedule for Wichita, but local travelers tell KAKE News they hope the discount carrier will include flights to Denver to keep westbound flight prices low.