- Frontier Airlines experienced an operational meltdown on Monday due to aircraft automation issues.
- The airline told Insider the problem was fixed and its flight schedule is resuming.
- The breakdown came on the same day Frontier announced its historical merger with Spirit Airlines.
Frontier Airlines aircraft were stuck on the ground for hours on the same day it announced its merger with low-cost rival Spirit Airlines.
Based on FlightAware data, Frontier had canceled 22% of flights and delayed another 23% more as of noon EST on Monday. The flights were grounded due to automation issues, which forced a total ground stop of all Frontier aircraft, according to an FAA advisory.
“Earlier today, we experienced a technology issue which led to some flight delays and cancellations,” a Frontier spokesperson told Insider. “The issue was identified and has been resolved. We are working to restore our flight schedule for the balance of the day.”
As of 12:30 pm EST, Frontier had restored several flights, like Detroit to Las Vegas, St. Louis to Cancun, and Phoenix to San Francisco, according to FlightAware. Most of the flights are departing two to three hours late.
The operational meltdown came just minutes after the company revealed it would be acquiring Florida-based Spirit for $2.9 billion, creating a merger worth $6.6 billion. The airlines said in a press release that the combined entity will enhance its route network, offering over 1,000 daily flights to 145 destinations across 19 countries.
According to Henry Harteveldt, president and analyst at Atmosphere Research Group, the merger is good for customers in terms of destination options.
“What is good for consumers is when you combine Frontier and Spirit, you will have a large, coast-to-coast, low-fare airline with extension international service into the Caribbean and Latin America,” he told Insider. “You could have one low-fare airline that could take you to more places nonstop, or, in other cases, one stop in a hub.”
Moreover, he believes fares will stay low in markets where major carriers, like Delta, United, Southwest, and American, operate.
“Frontier and Spirit will still be a low-fare leader,” he told Insider. “What we don’t know is if they will be the absolute lowest price on a given route, versus, say, Allegiant. But I believe the combined airline will be less expensive at the base fare than competitors like Alaska, JetBlue, Southwest, or the three network airlines.”
The merger is subject to government permission, though Harteveldt believes the proposal will be approved.
“It’s very clear the airline industry in the US is geared around scale, and what is important is that these airlines survive,” he explained. “I don’t think the administration really would have any strong reason to object. I think the Biden Administration would have more reason to object to JetBlue and Alaska merging.”