Frontier Airlines starts new flights from DFW Airport to Cleveland ahead of Spirit merger

Ultra-low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines will start flying from DFW International Airport to Cleveland in June, an expansion in Texas as it waits for clearance to merge with competing cheap flight airline Spirit.

Denver-based Frontier, which announced in February its plans to merge with Spirit, is bulking up its flight schedule from DFW with the flights to Cleveland starting June 16, a route it hasn’t flown since early 2015. Even then, the DFW to Cleveland route only lasted six months before Frontier pulled it.

The Cleveland Hopkins International Airport flight starts on June 16 and will run three times a week in each direction, joining 16 other routes from DFW and several new routes announced over the last year. Even before the new route news, Frontier was scheduled to have 388 flights from DFW in May and 364 in June as the carrier makes a major push into North Texas and the primary hub of legacy network carrier American Airlines.

Before November, Frontier had never averaged more than 10 flights a day out of DFW Airport and, by 2018, it had cut service to one or two flights a day out of DFW, according to flight schedule tracker Diio by Cirium. By June, DFW will become the 11th busiest stop in Frontier’s flight network. That will make Frontier the fifth busiest airline at DFW by total flights and seats in June, behind American, Spirit, Delta and United.

Last July, Frontier added seven new DFW routes, including three that are set to debut in May to Buffalo, NY; Hartford, Conn.; and Durango, Colo.


What the Frontier-Spirit airline merger will mean for Texas travelers

There will be one fewer flying option for travelers flying out of DFW International Airport, Austin Bergstrom or Houston Intercontinental if Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines are allowed to go forward with the $6.6 billion merger announced Monday. Denver-based Frontier plans to buy Miramar, Fla.-based Spirit in an all-stock deal for $3 billion, a combination that would create the fifth largest airline in the country and set up a low-cost rival to the major network carriers in Delta, United, American and Southwest.And travelers out of San Antonio, El Paso and Harlingen could say major changes with Frontier operating out of those airports.

“We have been the fastest-growing airline at DFW since 2019, and we look forward to further expanding our commitment to the DFW community by offering even more options to enjoy Frontier’s ultra-low fares and friendly service,” said Daniel Shurz, Frontier’s senior vice president of commercial.

Frontier said the promotional rate on the DFW to Cleveland route will start at $99 each way, but the airline has not posted the flights on its website yet. Frontier, like other ultra-low-cost-carriers, focuses on no-frills fares with extra costs for changing flights, carry-on bags, seat assignments and in-flight food. Frontier says those fees help lower the price of base tickets.

The new route to Cleveland comes as Frontier announced 27 new routes nationwide on Wednesday, including two routes to Mexico population centers in Guadalajara and Monterrey. Frontier is in the midst of major expansion even without the Spirit merger. The company has plans to more than double its fleet from about 112 today to 272 in 2029 with the recent order of 91 Airbus A321neo planes in November. In all, the airline has 232 planes on order, all Airbus jets.

Frontier and Spirit have both been viewed as winners as the aviation world shuffles in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each has nimble networks that focus on leisure travelers mostly inside the United States. Spirit and Frontier announced plans to merge last month in a $3 billion deal that would create the country’s fifth-largest carrier with a focus on undercutting its major carrier competition.

Spirit, too, has been aggressively growing at DFW Airport, a spot that competitors have often been reluctant to attack because of the immense presence of American Airlines, headquartered less than a mile away. In the summer of 2019, Spirit grew up to 1,000 flights a month out of DFW and has added more routes since then, although at a lower frequency.

It’s unclear how Spirit and Frontier will balance their combined network out of DFW Airport after the merger, which still needs to clear regulatory hurdles.

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