Frontier Airlines says it will begin flying larger jets between Bloomington-Normal and Denver in two months. Frontier officials say 138-seat Airbus 319 aircraft will replace the 99-seat jets currently flying four times a week between Central Illinois Regional Airport and the Mile High City. CIRA Director Carl Olson says the Denver flights have proven to be wildly popular since beginning last spring.
"The initial service has done so well and the advance bookings are beating the system average for Denver for Frontier, that the outlook is positive and therefore justifies further investment. This is a very good thing."
CIRA officials sought replacement service for AirTran flights that ended earlier this year. While AirTran didn't serve Denver, the additional market helped shore up CIRA's overall service portfolio. Olson says Frontier's high quality and low-cost flights have helped it emerge as a leader in regional jet service. The larger jets go into service January 7.
Community financial investment just insurance policy
Early this year, Bloomington, Normal, and McLean County governments approved taxpayer contributions to a $450,000 warchest to guarantee Frontier's Denver route would not lose money. Mayor Chris Koos of Normal says the airline has never drawn upon that money and with the larger jets, it looks like the money will remain untapped. Koos says the money is reserved until late May, but after that...
"If there were another airline that wanted to come to the community or if Frontier wanted to get another route that we felt was important to the community then we'd probably reallocate it."
Koos says Frontier and the community were confident the service would succeed without the revenue guarantee.
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