Frontier Airlines to partner with Horizon Airlines for regional flights

Denver-based carrier dropping Mesa

By The Denver Post and The Associated Press

Frontier Airlines today dumped Mesa Airlines as its regional carrier, signing a 12-year agreement with Seattle-based Horizon Air that begins Jan. 1.

Horizon, a subsidiary of Alaska Air Group Inc., will take over the Frontier JetExpress regional service for the Denver-based discount airline.

Terms were not disclosed, but Frontier said it will pay Horizon a base margin and performance-based incentives, while keeping control of scheduling and destinations.

Frontier JetExpress routes currently operated from Denver by Mesa include service to Albuquerque, N.M.; Austin, Texas; Boise, Idaho; Oklahoma City; Ontario, Calif.; San Jose; Tucson, Ariz.; and Wichita, Kan.

Routes and schedules of the new service have not been determined, Horizon said.

Frontier’s agreement with Mesa expires Dec. 31. Mesa now flies for United Airlines’ competing regional service.

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"Our regional jet service has provided extra depth to our business strategy, and we are excited at the opportunity to partner with a top quality airline like Horizon Air," Frontier president and chief executive Jeff Potter said.

"Horizon’s commitment to customer service matches our philosophy, and we look forward to a successful partnership that will allow us to bring Frontier’s affordable fares to more communities."

Horizon will initially operate four 70-seat aircraft beginning Jan. 1 and add five more by June. The company said it expects to eventually base about 100 pilots, 100 flight attendants and 30 maintenance personnel in Denver.

Horizon, the nation’s eighth largest regional airline, serves 43 cities in six Western states and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta.

The change was needed because Mesa has agreed to fly regional operations for United in Denver, requiring it to drop rival Frontier by year’s end. As Frontier JetExpress, Mesa flies to a handful of Frontier’s 38 destinations.

Frontier had few options for a partner because some types of regional jets do not perform well at Denver’s high altitude, according to industry sources.

Horizon operates a fleet of jets made by Canada’s Bombardier that perform well here.

Horizon’s relationship with major airlines such as Alaska and Northwest is unique among regional-jet operators: Most of the airline’s passengers begin and end their journey with the carrier, spokeswoman Cheryl Temple said. About 35 percent connect to Horizon’s partners.,1413,36~33~1640665,00.html

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