Citing “high airport costs,” Frontier Airlines will suspend service to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) in early 2022. The decision represents a victory for United Airlines.
Frontier Airlines Will End Service To Newark, Washington Dulles
Speaking during a third quarter conference call, Daniel Shurz, Senior Vice President of Commercial at Frontier Airlines, said:
“We’re taking action on the significant increase we’re seeing in the cost pressures at airports. Following our decision to exit LAX and San Jose, California earlier this year, in the first quarter of 2022, we will be ending service to Washington-Dulles and Newark. As with any airport, if the fare and cost relationship improves, we will revisit the decision.”
Frontier entered both markets hoping to pick off traffic from United, which operates East Coast hubs from both airports.
At Washington Dulles, Frontier Airlines is operating up to three flights per week to Orlando (MCO). Flights are no longer bookable after January 4, 2022.
Frontier’s schedule from Newark is more robust, with service to:
- Atlanta (ATL)
- Cancun (CUN)
- Dallas (DFW)
- Miami (MIA)
- Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ)
- Nassau, Bahamas (NAS)
- Orlando (MCO)
- Palm Beach (PBI)
- San Juan (SJU)
- Tampa (TPA)
Service will end by the end of the first quarter in 2022.
Shurz downplayed the move, noting the many other opportunities Frontier has:
“We have so many growth opportunities, as we said multiple times this year. We have lots of places to put our aircraft and so we’re finding more cost-effective places in the short term. And look, a number of the airports we’ve made decisions on are in multi-airport cities and there are much more cost effective airports for us to fly from in those cities in those metro regions. And if that’s if that’s ultimately what we have to do for the long term, we’ll do it for the long term.”
Frontier also serves Baltimore (BWI) and Washington National (DCA) in the Washington area and serves New York La Guardia (with limited flights), Stewart (SWF), and Islip (ISP) in the New York area.
Big Victory For United Airlines…Probably Not For Consumers
United has competed hard with Frontier, matching and even beating pricing on many head-to-head routes. Cheap flights between Newark and Florida may not be going away, but expect fares to go up as Frontier vacates its routes.
Currently, fares are so cheap you can often get walk-up fares of $50 on United, which may not have been sustainable but certainly were an attractive option for consumers. The beauty of budget carriers is not always that you actually fly on them, but that they force legacy airlines to match pricing.
But with higher costs out of the main airports and aggressive pricing from United, Frontier Airlines did not see a path forward.
Just as Southwest struggled in Newark, so did Frontier. Frontier’s departures from Newark and Washington will strengthen United’s positions at both airports. It will also lead to higher fares. Even if that simply represents equilibrium being restored, consumers may soon notice prices rise rapidly on many routes to Florida and may wish to lock in 2022 reservations now.
image: Tomás Del Coro