Frontier likes to load planes from the ground and from the outside. Is this in store for Orlando?
Frontier no longer courting Spirit for a merger, the airline has launched an expansion at its home airport in Denver that will get rid of its jetways and, with a nod to an era all but gone, will board its passengers outside the tarmac.
“Using ground boarding will cut boarding and disembarking times in half by allowing customers to access aircraft from the front and rear,” said Barry Biffle, the carrier’s chief executive.
The 8th largest airline in the country, Frontier flies to 73 destinations from Denver and 65 destinations from Orlando International, which is the airline’s second busiest airport.
In Denver, Frontier goes from nine gates resting on catwalks to 14 gates that send passengers to the ground floor. Will the low-cost airline seek to convert to this method of boarding at Orlando airport, known by its MCO code and under pressure to provide airlines with more gates?
“While we have no immediate plans to continue ground boarding at MCO, it has many operational benefits and, in general, we want to increase the use of ground boarding at airports in our network. “, said Jennifer de la Cruz. , spokesperson for the airline.
There is a precedent at Orlando airport for ground boarding. Delta Air Lines subsidiary Comair, for a time the world’s largest regional airline, operated a large section of ground-level gates. Comair, which maintained a hub in Orlando, was in service until about 20 years ago.
But, Orlando officials say, there’s a question of the tropical climate, Orlando’s large child population of travelers and, quite simply, the lack of wing space amid the layout. particular from the airport.
At the time, Comair was flying smaller jets than Frontier’s current Airbus 320 family aircraft.
While Orlando airport is not at all receptive to ground boarding, it is about to revamp its ownership of the coveted gates among airlines.
“We have a great relationship with Frontier,” Orlando Airport Manager Kevin Thibault said. “They constantly ask us for additional doors.”
Frontier can get his wish. With the $3 billion Terminal C opening this month, its flagship airline will be JetBlue. This means the New York-based airline will free up eight gates from the original AB terminal complex.
“We are also negotiating with other airlines,” Thibault said, adding that the airport is constantly looking to balance passenger loads between terminals. “Obviously that will give us a chance to make a redistribution.”
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