Frontier Airlines is eliminating its Albuquerque service in January, according to an airport spokesman, leaving Sunport fliers with just six major airline choices in 2014. And since two of the remaining carriers plan to merge — American and U.S. Airways — that number may dip to five unless the Sunport succeeds in its ongoing quest to woo new carriers.
“It’s fewer choices for our customers, and that’s something we don’t like to see,” Sunport spokesman Dan Jiron told the Journal. “We understand it’s a business decision on (Frontier’s) part and can’t take it personally.”
Frontier did not respond to Journal messages, but Jiron said he’s been told the airline wasn’t doing enough business to sustain its Sunport operation.
Frontier currently offers two daily flights between Albuquerque and Denver, a route also served by United Airlines and market dominating Southwest Airlines. Frontier had 2.7 percent of Sunport market share in June.
“It doesn’t come as a major surprise, but it’s disappointing,” Jiron said of losing an airline partner whose ties to the city go back more than 20 years.
Frontier accounted for $1.5 million of the Sunport’s $74 million in revenue in FY2012, and Jiron said some of that money will continue to come in until Frontier’s lease expires in 2016.
It is another troubling development at an airport that keeps losing passengers. Sunport traffic has declined the last five years. Year-to-date passenger numbers through May are down 8.8 percent from 2012.
Jiron said there is an ongoing effort to attract new airlines but it “really boils down to ‘When is the (passenger) demand going to come back?’”
On a bright note, recent Sunport addition JetBlue has had a strong showing with its daily nonstops to New York City. Averages from the flight’s first few months show it’s operating at about 80 percent capacity, Jiron said, adding, “we’re very pleased with that.”