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Denver-based Frontier Airlines is an LCC subsidiary of Republic Airways Holdings. Frontier operates a fleet of recognisable Airbus narrowbody aircraft, all of which feature a unique 'spokesanimal' on the tail. From its Denver hub, Frontier operates extensive services across the US as well as to Mexico and Costa Rica.
Location of Frontier Airlines main hub (Denver International Airport)
LCCs will continue to evolve into hybrids of the original core model. CAPA and OAG consider Frontier Airlines fits the LCC profile and it is included in our reporting on this basis. Please note: when reporting for an airline is changed from or to LCC the historical data is not affected and it can lead to a distortion in the current reported data. Contact us if you have any queries.
695 total articles
96 total articles
Denver-based Frontier Airlines has experienced a vast upheaval during the last few years. Acquired by US regional operator Republic Airways Holdings in 2009, Republic decided more than a year ago to spin-off or sell Frontier.
Meanwhile, during its time as a subsidiary of Republic, Frontier has successfully executed a cost cutting scheme and network overhaul that has largely produced favourable results. As it worked to achieve cost efficiency Republic management declared its intent to transform Frontier into an ultra low-cost carrier to mimic the cost structure of other US carriers in that genre, namely Allegiant and Spirit.
But as Frontier has worked to improve its fortunes it has not developed a business model that falls strictly into a no-frills offering in the same vein as Spirit Airlines. Its network is a mix of flying from a hub in Denver and point-to-point operations largely from Orlando and its new focus city of Trenton, New Jersey. Frontier lacks the scale to develop into a full-blown hybrid carrier like JetBlue, yet does not strictly adhere to a pure leisure focus.
American and US Airways are pressing full steam ahead to close their merger by 3Q2012, including stressing to US legislators that the combination will improve the overall health of the country’s airline industry and make the merged airline a more viable competitor with legacy and low-cost carriers alike. With just a dozen routes that overlap, the carriers should not encounter any resistance from anti-trust authorities, and given that most the markets are hub to hub pairings, few changes are likely to be made to service patterns once the 18 month integration process is complete.
Some of the arguments made by American and US Airways over increasing competition from low-cost carriers and their potential service expansion into overlap markets might be overblown as those airlines in previous mergers have been selective in grabbing the low hanging fruit created by the tie-ups between Delta-Northwest, United-Continental and Southwest-AirTran.
US ultra low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines has made sweeping changes to its network during the last few weeks as it attempts to find the right mix of profitable routes that act as shields from one of its largest competitors, Southwest Airlines.
The changes include axing a short-lived focus city in Colorado Springs, hopping between airports close in geographical distance and introducing new seasonal flights from its Denver hub. Despite the end to the brief test case of the Colorado Springs focus city, Frontier for now remains committed to building up point-to-point service from Trenton, New Jersey and Orlando, Florida.
While the argument could be made that Frontier’s swift reaction to ever-changing market conditions reflects the nimbleness that its smaller size allows, the constant upheaval could be a turn-off to customers that expect a certain level of network consistency. And as Frontier’s parent Republic Airways Holdings works to secure a sale of Frontier in early 2013, would-be buyers may be scratching their heads over the long-term value Frontier might provide.
Southwest Airlines plans to aggressively grow its return on invested capital (ROIC) by 8 ppts in 2013 to 15%, driven by USD1.1 billion in revenue gains derived from schedule adjustments, new ancillary fees and an improved revenue management system. The carrier must close a wide gap in order to meet its goal after recording a 7% ROIC for the 12M ending in Sep-2012, and admitting it fell short of an original 15% target for 2012. But Southwest management is confident that 2013 is the year it will attain its often-cited return goals as it seeks to contain unit cost growth and capture USD400 million in estimated synergies from its acquisition of AirTran.
Carrier executives are tempering some of the confidence they are exuding about meeting ROIC goals with a cautious declaration that there is no guarantee that 15% returns will be displayed in the airline’s year-end 2013 results.
Southwest CEO Gary Kelly told investors in late Dec-2012 “it is not a promise, but we’re sharing with you our plan”. Previously Southwest has struck a cautious tone for 2013 as its operating profit during 3Q2012 plummeted USD174 million to USD51 million.
United ends 2012 as world's biggest airline, Emirates third. Turkish and Lion Air the biggest movers
United Airlines, following its merger with Continental, has ended 2012 as the world's biggest airline measured by available seat kilometres for the current week, ahead of second placed Delta, whose capacity fell 0.3% year on year, according to Innovata. Fast growing Dubai-based carrier Emirates is the world's third biggest airline by this measure, and could be in second place by the end of 2013 if the past year's growth rates are maintained.
Southwest Airlines remains easily the largest LCC, while Lion Air and Jetstar have each climbed the LCC top 10, to sixth and seventh places respectively, overtaking Westjet. Atlanta Airport (just) remains the world's largest, ahead of Beijing Capital Airport, in terms of seat throughput for the week, but this ranking seems certain to reverse in 2013.
The biggest movers in the overall World Top 50 list include Turkish Airlines, which jumped seven places to rank 15th globally, while Indonesian carrier Lion Air vaulted eight places to enter the global Top 40 for the first time. Iberia and India's Jet Airways fell four and seven places in the 2012 rankings, respectively.
Global Airline Alliances collectively grew capacity at higher than the world rate, with SkyTeam expanding fastest of the three majors, although Star Alliance remains easily the largest.
During one of the most profitable quarters of the year for North American carriers, Virgin America continued to record a string of quarterly losses, watching its 3Q2012 net loss widen year-over-year from USD3 million to nearly USD13 million. In its latest effort to stem its continuous losses for the last five years, the carrier has now embarked on plans to cut its orders for current generation Airbus narrowbodies and defer deliveries of the A320neo as a means to slow its annual capacity growth to the single digits during the next several years versus a 73% expansion during the last two years.
While the changes to its Airbus orders supplies Virgin America breathing room with its capital commitments, and its new-found slow-growth mode gives some of the new markets it has introduced during the last couple of years time to mature, it is not clear how Virgin America will undertake one of the single biggest challenges it faces in achieving profitability – building and maintaining a viable network to compete effectively against carriers that are cleaning up their own balance sheets and posting consistent profits.
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