Frontier Airlines Plots Expansion With New Tampa & Atlanta Bases

Frontier Airlines has some big plans for 2021. Alongside the airline’s entrance into new markets and new routes, the carrier plans two new bases at Tampa International Airport (TPA) and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL). The new bases are the start of what Frontier is likely to use to jumpstart its expansion out of the two airports and provide plenty of new low-cost competition.

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Frontier Airlines is planning on adding two new crew bases in Atlanta and Tampa. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Frontier Airlines announces new crew bases

Frontier Airlines will establish a crew base at Tampa International Airport from May 2021. According to Frontier, in Tampa, approximately 250 flight attendants and 140 pilots will be based at TPA this year. The airline plans to grow its crew base in Tampa in the future.

Alongside Tampa, Frontier Airlines has announced its intention to open a crew base at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) in late-2021. More details will be up later this year about the Atlanta base.

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Frontier is no stranger to major airports, but its growth in Atlanta shows its willingness to take on the legacy carriers. Photo: Getty Images

Barry Biffle, CEO of Frontier Airlines, stated the following:

“With our low-cost structure and focus on leisure travel, Frontier is exceptionally well positioned to increase operations this year and continue to expand in these two growing markets. We anticipate that nearly 400 Frontier crew members will be based in Tampa by the end of 2021. Atlanta is also on the radar for later this year and those details will become more solidified as things progress.”

The basis for major growth

Crew bases are one way that an airline can prepare for major growth. The airline starts by basing pilots and flight attendants and hires the staff it needs to hire to prepare the new planes and destinations that it will fly to from the base.

Bases represent an airline’s commitment to a particular location. As they are not cheap to set up, airlines strategically invest in bases they believe they can profitably grow out of. Tampa and Atlanta are two good bets.

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Frontier Airlines has other crew bases in cities like Trenton and Denver, two of the largest Frontier stations. Photo: Getty Images

Out of Tampa, Frontier Airlines currently offers around 20 nonstop routes. Meanwhile, from Atlanta, the airline serves 15 nonstop destinations. This is on top of the connecting opportunities on Frontier metal through another city to international and domestic destinations.

Where can Frontier grow?

Out of Tampa, Frontier Airlines flies the following routes:

Frontier's routes out of Tampa
Frontier’s flights out of Tampa. Note that some flights may be served seasonally and only a few days a week. Rendering created at Great Circle Mapper

Meanwhile, out of Atlanta, the airline flies the following routes:

ATL routes on Frontier
Frontier’s routes out of Atlanta. Note that some flights may be served seasonally and only a few days a week. Rendering created at Great Circle Mapper

Clearly, there is plenty of room to grow out of both cities. Tampa and Atlanta were two important focus cities for Frontier before the crisis hit, which is unlikely to change. Some of the largest underserved markets from both points are Texas, which is home to some of the nation’s fastest-growing cities, Arizona, a growing sun-belt destination, and flights to Central America and the Caribbean.

Frontier Airlines will be competing against hometown carrier Delta out of Atlanta. Like most other hubs, Delta is not necessarily the number one go-to carrier for passengers leaving Atlanta, and sometimes, the carrier charges a premium departing Atlanta. Frontier Airlines will come to Atlanta with a more point-to-point mindset. While there will definitely be some connecting traffic, it will be a relatively small slice of the pie.

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Frontier Airlines has found success in challenging major airlines in hub airports, like Denver. Photograph provided courtesy of Denver International Airport

It would also not be surprising to see Frontier try and make some forays into Central America and the Caribbean. Popular vacation destinations such as Cancun, Montego Bay, and Punta Cana are getting renewed attention from air carriers. Frontier’s low-cost structure allows it to offer leisure travelers competitive pricing for a nonstop flight.

Historically, Frontier Airlines has been fine with taking some risks and cutting those flights if they do not work. Out of Atlanta and Tampa, the airline is likely to take some risks, but it can always redeploy aircraft on other routes, and there are plenty of profitable contenders out of both Atlanta and Tampa.

This will put some, but not a lot of pressure on legacy carriers in both cities. Tampa is not a major airline hub like Atlanta is, but there is fierce competition. The airline has a large fleet of Airbus A320ceo and A320neo aircraft, including over 100 on order, that could easily transform two of these bases with fuel savings and lower operating costs.

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Frontier Airlines is targeting new leisure travelers. Photo: Getty Images

Data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) shows that Southwest has about a 31% market share in Tampa, followed by American at 17%, Delta at 15%, Spirit at 12%, and United at 9.5%. All other carriers combined had a 15.4% market share.

Out of Atlanta, unsurprisingly, Delta Air Lines has a 70% market share, followed by Southwest’s 10%. Delta’s wholly-owned regional subsidiary, Endeavor Air, takes a 6.2% share, followed by Spirit at 3.8% and American at 3.1%. All other carriers combined took 6.9% of the pie out of Atlanta.

Are you glad to see Frontier Airlines plot growth out of Atlanta and Tampa? Let us know in the comments!

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