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Frontier may be out of time

Scott CondonGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Frontier Airlines is losing its battle with the clock to start service this winter in ski resort markets like Aspen.A company spokesman conceded last weekend that Frontier might not have enough time to establish its new low-cost carrier, Lynx Aviation, for the ski season.”It doesn’t seem likely that we will have the opportunity to sell tickets for this winter,” said Frontier spokesman Joe Hodas.Frontier is still seeking operating authority from the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation. It cannot market its new service or sell tickets until those approvals are granted.Frontier hoped to already have service started on its low-cost subsidiary between Denver and markets like Rapid City, S.D., Sioux City, Iowa, and Wichita, Kan. It intended to start service between Denver and some mountain resort markets later in December. Although Frontier hasn’t announced the mountain destinations it selected, Aspen was widely expected to be one of them.The business community offered $100,000 cash to Frontier for marketing as a financial incentive.Information filed by Lynx with the Department of Transportation last month indicates the air carrier anticipated having the approvals in hand by now.”As a result of Federal Aviation Administration reviews and workload, Lynx will not be in a position to operate flights as originally planned,” said a letter from the airline to the federal agency.Meanwhile, the clock is ticking in vacation destinations like Aspen. Some visitors already are booking their trips. Many visitors are obviously unaware that Frontier’s new service might be an option. Others that know might not want to gamble that Lynx will be able to fly.If Frontier wants to start service this winter, Pitkin County will be able to accommodate it with space at the airport terminal, regardless of whether it is at the start or middle of the ski season, said Jim Elwood, director of aviation.Elwood remains optimistic about new service this winter. “I haven’t given up on the ski season,” he said.Even if Lynx cannot acquire approvals, establish the new mountain markets and start selling tickets in time for this winter, Bill Tomcich, president of the central bookings agency Stay Aspen Snowmass, said he believes it is just a matter of time before the carrier serves Aspen.”I’m certain it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when,” he said.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com.


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