Southwest Wants Frontier – Adiós Mexico?
This week Southwest Airlines announced they are bidding to acquire Frontier Airlines, which is currently in bankruptcy. Republic Airways, a charter company flying regionals around the midwest, had put in an earlier bid, and Southwest’s higher bid of $113 million creates a fun eBay war on a huge scale.
Two analyses that I’ve read have been Cranky Flyer’s take, which always includes some excellent discussion. This article states that Denver is not a large enough city to maintain three hubs, with UAL, Frontier, and Southwest all flying many of the same routes with rock bottom prices. I don’t disagree. It was fun while it lasted, and a nice change from 12 years prior.
Scott McCartney of Wall Street Journal blog feels that an increased Denver presence will ultimately hurt United. Here in Denver Frontier carries much hometown pride, and the comments in initial Denver Post article reflect that, with many comments bagging Southwest and worry of a big Texas company arriving in Colorado and shutting things down.
I love Frontier, their service, and the unique identity and branding they’ve created.
I’m not as concerned about where the company is based, (Southwest has brought jobs to Colorado too,) but I worry about losing Frontier’s service to Mexico. This will definitely be affected one way or another. Currently Frontier offers non-stop service to the big Mexican vacation cities. I’ve flown them to Cancun twice to start Yucatan excursions, to Puerta Vallarta, and Mazatlan. During high season they offer at least two flights a day. I like the selection, service, and price. Frontier even offers service to Costa Rica.
United serves these routes too, however this will result in less competition and less frequency. American and Continental fly to Mexico through their respective Texas hubs, however non-stop flights are certainly preferred by me, even if the cost is a bit higher.
Losing this Mexico service a mi no es bueno…
On a related note: Every news article containing reader comments ends up turning into a “A is better than B” rant, with a detailed assessment of an airline based on their own personal limited number of flights. This isn’t Emirates versus RyanAir. There’s nothing individually special about UAL, Southwest, or Frontier – nor anything horrendous about them either.
Everyone seems to have a sob story about some airline that did something atrocious to them – but the reality is you go to the airport, enplane, sit in a chair, and be in another city in a few hours. That’s it – it’s rare that there’s anything further that’s special about the trip or you.
My first choice is United because with miles and mileage plus promos I get about two free trips every 18 months, (yes I can actually redeem them with good planning,) and they fly overseas allowing major mileage accrual. But I fly Frontier and Southwest when price and schedule suit me. Frontier has a good selection of non-stops to Mexico – and I’m flying Southwest in a few weeks because they have an early departure that I want, purposely paying a higher price on Southwest over Frontier or UAL so I can take an early return flight, arrive work in the morning, and avoid taking a day off. Price isn’t everything. Period. I’d rather have THREE airlines giving me non-stops from the east coast that morning rather than two.
People enjoy recanting their water cooler stories about being treated like cattle, or liking whoever because they can watch TV for two hours, (hey! books!) and other irrelevant (other than to them) personal experiences, but it’s more important to realize that variety and options are key.
Having three airlines with three different operating methods is something to keep and appreciate – regardless if you’ll never fly on X again because blah blah blah.
Speaking of bidding, if you’d like some high resolution photos of my Frontier airplanes shoot me an email. My stock footage is cheap – and in 10 years when Frontier is long forgotten maybe they’ll be worth something.
Related: Airline Competition in Denver.