Frontier Airlines wins bankruptcy court approval
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Frontier and Spirit Airlines ramp up their fleets to support bullish views on passenger stimulation
ULCCs Frontier and Spirit hold orders for more than 150 Airbus narrowbodies to support the proliferation of the model across the US. Frontier’s fleet is projected to grow by 83% from YE2016 to 2021 – from 66 to 121 aircraft. Spirit’s current fleet forecast shows 46% growth from YE2017 to 2021 – from 108 aircraft to 158 aircraft.
Each airline is taking nuanced approaches to financial management of its fleet. Spirit has opted to purchase some aircraft off lease in order to enlarge its number of owned aircraft, while Frontier, which is just embarking on the process of accessing public markets, will use operating leases as its primary financing vehicle.
The planned growth by each airline reflects conclusions reached by Frontier and Spirit about the opportunities for the ULCC model in the US, despite changing market dynamics – namely a push by large US global network airlines to create pricing segments to compete more effectively with ULCCs. Despite the focus on price matching by larger airlines, Frontier and Spirit remain bullish on the opportunities for stimulation in the US market.
Frontier to celebrate ULCC transition with an IPO: intensity grows in the US competitive landscape
After toying with the idea of engaging in an initial public offering for more than year, the US ULCC Frontier Airlines now intends to go public as its major shareholder, ULCC specialist Indigo Partners, sets its sights on Argentina. Frontier has arrived at and passed many ULCC milestones, including producing unit costs excluding fuel below the USD6 cent benchmark for the ULCC model, placing it on par with its fellow ULCCs Spirit Airlines and Allegiant.
Frontier markets its product differently from other US ULCCs, giving passengers the options to purchase product in a bundled form or a la carte, but it still maintains ultra low fares. However, Frontier couldn’t escape the pricing pressure that permeated the US market in 2016, joining the majority of the country’s airlines in posting distinct yield and unit revenue declines.
Obviously, despite the pricing pressure and changing dynamics in the US market, Frontier remains bullish on the opportunities for ULCCs in the market place, concluding that numerous markets exist for it to operate profitably with low fares.
During the past several years Frontier’s network focus has been somewhat murky. Now Frontier’s network strategy is targeting high fare, underserved routes. And like its rival Spirit, Frontier also singles out medium sized markets that offer some protection from larger competitors.