Frontier Airlines’ wildlife theme and branding have brought it a lot of attention in its Denver home market, but some worry that the birds, bees and beasts may become an endangered species. The airline said the other day it expects an even worse profit picture this winter, citing fuel costs and increasing competition. The next day, its newest rival at Denver, Southwest Airlines, announced a major increase in service at the Mile High City. While Frontier has been able to hold its own since the discount king came in two years ago, it has recently retrenched, cutting back some of the sun-and-sand routes that it had grown in the last year or so. Instead, it will focus on ‘meat-and-potatoes’ business routes linking Denver with places that people have to go to (eg, Detroit) instead of the kind of places they want to go to (eg, Cancun).
Now Southwest plans its largest ever one-day growth spurt for May 10, when it increases its Denver schedule from 56 to 79 daily flights. The additions include the very types of business-oriented routes that Frontier has refocused on, such as Denver to Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Jose, St. Louis, and Raleigh/Durham, NC. Southwest will also add San Diego flights in April. In the past, Frontier has often said it can coexist peacefully with other carriers, but with Southwest desperate to grow its revenues, we fear that Frontier’s Spike the Porcupine, above, may need all of his needles to fend off the predator.