Denver-based Frontier Airlines said Wednesday is flying back into the Memphis market with low fares.
Though Frontier is starting small, the airline will be adding nonstop service weekly from Memphis to Denver starting March 7, 2014. The airfare will be as $69 one way.
Frontier Airlines could be just what Memphians and Mid-Southerners have been longing for.
"It's an exciting day in Memphis!," said Jack Sammons, chairman of Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority.
"We'll be flying four flights a week with 138-seaters," said Gregory Aretakis of Frontier Airlines. "The service will be on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays."
Denver is home to Frontier's headquarters. The fares will start at $69 each way and offer Memphians a chance to make connections in Denver to hit other destinations to San Francisco, Seattle, Phoenix, San Diego, Vegas, Los Angeles, and Portland, Ore.
"We have service to several dozen cities west of Denver ranging from the smaller cities like Eugene and Fresno up to the big cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco and Seattle," Aretakis said.
Coupled with low-fares offered by Southwest Airlines, which will start offering service out of Memphis Nov. 3, these new low-cost airlines are able to move in after Delta Air Lines pulled its hub from Memphis in September.
"Delta's given up and they pulled out service, and frankly, this community needs service," Aretakis said. "It's a big city with a history of traveling."
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"Young Scott Brock and I have been traveling the nation in relentless pursuit of frequent and affordable air service," Sammons added.
But how long will these low-cost airlines stay in Memphis, specifically Frontier? The carrier used to fly out of Memphis in 2007, only to leave 11 months later.
"At that time, Memphis was one of a number of cities the company peeled back from as it was working its way through its bankruptcy," Aretakis said.
But if the demand for flights out of Memphis is there Aretakis claims Frontier Airlines will stay in Memphis and could potentially expand its service.
"As our markets develop, we'll do better and better in terms of service we add," he said. "But there are no promises."
Experts say the addition of Frontier and Southwest catering to Memphis is good for the Mid-South tourism business.
"This new flight from Frontier, along with the Southwest flights, is showing strong confidence in Memphis as a tourist destination," said Jonathan Lyons of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Southwest will be flying between Memphis and five other cities starting Nov. 3. The airline is already advertising Memphis as its newest destination..
Baltimore, the hometown newspaper in one of those destinations, already ran a story on the nine reasons to visit Memphis.
"It's given Memphis more visibility in these markets because people that live in those markets are now having access to visit our city," Lyons said. "So it's a huge boom for promoting our tourism."
Frontier has a reputation as an airline catering to leisure travelers. The city's draw as a destination factored into the new service.
"People were asking for service to the southeast and they were giving us their list," Aretakis said. "Memphis kept showing up on the list."
Aretakis added that Frontier air passengers want to visit Graceland, the Memphis Zoo and the more than 60 attractions in the city. Tourism brings millions of dollars to the Bluff City and the Mid-South and this new services could add to the total.
"You'd be surprised how many people look at Memphis as a very desirable destination," Aretakis said. "That are people every day who want to come here."
The staff at the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau will be taking advantage of this new Frontier service. They'll be promoting the city in Denver and the other cities served by the airline, promoting Memphis tourism and trying to get more visitors to the city.
Frontier Airlines serves 57 cities in the United States.
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