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Frontier Says It Won't Take Off Early

March 2, 2011, 9:57 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Frontier Says It Won't Take Off Early
SIOUX FALLS, SD - Frontier Airlines is cleared for landing in Sioux Falls. The Denver-based airliner reached an agreement Wednesday to begin service in Sioux Falls on the Fourth of July.

However, in the last three years Frontier Airlines started service in three other cities in the region, but ended up pulling out of Rapid City, Sioux City and Fargo just as fast.

And with the incentives Sioux Falls is offering one city council member worries the airline won't stick around after the money runs out.

In the case of Fargo and Sioux City airport administrators there say Frontier pulled out because the company was going through bankruptcy and the new owners got rid of that fleet of airplanes.

In Rapid City, Frontier only lasted three years because of increased competition from United Airlines.

While Frontier Airlines hasn't had a good track record sticking around Midwestern cities in recent years officials say they are committed to staying in Sioux Falls. 

"It's not our intention to go into a market and then exit them. That's costly for us, it's costly for the community. Our goal when we come into a market is to stay there," Bob Westgate Frontier Airlines Director of Planning and Scheduling said.

But Sioux Falls City Council member Greg Jamison thinks the airport authority is running a risk by bringing in Frontier Airlines with a quarter-million dollar incentive. 

"I'm just a little concerned about artificially creating the relationship when we've had it happen in the past where the airline comes and stays for awhile until that subsidy runs out and then they are gone," Jamison said.

Frontier did not leave Sioux City, Fargo or Rapid City because its incentive ran out.
 
In Rapid City it ran into too much competition in flights to Denver. 

"We had a very aggressive competitor there that doubled their frequencies and pretty much drove us nuts. In light of that we found that there was more economically viable places to put the airplane, and that's what we did," Westgate said.

Frontier officials also say Sioux Falls is bigger than Rapid City and has more business travelers.

"There's a broader pool to draw on. It's also less seasonal because there's more of a business component to it than there was in Rapid City," Westgate said.

And while Jamison is happy to see more flights coming to Sioux Falls he's concerned about the way it's happening.

"Anytime you can get more competition that's good as long as we do it in the right way," Jamison said.

Airport officials in Fargo say they were happy with Frontier and the airline did very well, and they would even like to see them come back to the Fargo market some day.

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