HOTR: ULCCs Frontier, Spirit announce plans to merge

Feb. 7, 2022, © Leeham News: Frontier and Spirit airlines today announced plans to merge. The combination will create the USA’s fifth largest carrier and combine the two largest Ultra Low-Cost Carriers (ULCC) in the United States.

Shareholders of Frontier will own 51.5% of the new company, and seven of the 12 board members will be appointed by Frontier. The largest shareholder is Indigo Partners, whose chairman, Bill Franke, becomes chair of the combined airline. Indigo once was the largest shareholder in Spirit. Indigo sold its shareholdings and Franke resigned from the Spirit board when Indigo bought control of Frontier.

It hasn’t been decided what the brand of the new company will be.

Regulatory approvals required

Frontier Airlines route map. Photo credit: The Airchive/Cirium.

Regulatory approvals are required by the US Department of Justice and the US Department of Transportation. The companies believe that approvals will be forthcoming. Officials tout a projected $1bn in fare savings to the consumer and increased flights on routes where the systems overlap—which is huge, according to maps created for LNA by The Archive.

Spirit and Frontier also touted their growing fleets of Airbus A320neos as a benefit to reducing emissions. Each operates A320ceo aircraft, which are being replaced by the more fuel-efficient neos. The improved fuel efficiency also reduces emissions. The companies have nearly 350 neos on order.

Spirit Airlines route map. Photo credit: The Airchive/Cirium.

108 Comments on “HOTR: ULCCs Frontier, Spirit announce plans to merge

    • The temporary grounding has ended, the ‘automation issue’ was identified.

  1. From those route maps it looks as if carriers don’t care too much about Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas 😉
    Compare that to the Ryanair route map — which basically pastes the whole of Europe from multiple angles.

    The Spirit and Frontier route maps do, indeed, have a striking degree of overlap; a combined fleet should offer huge efficiency improvements, and allow more “in your face” competition with Southwest and Alaskan.

    • Bryce:

      Cows don’t fly.

      Alaska has more people than Wyoming (or is it Montana). More or less around 375,000. We call place like Belgium wafer states, they are so small though densely packed.

      You really need to get informed before you comment.

      Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas are vast wildernesses.

      Alaska is an even bigger one (than all 4) but we fly a lot. Ergo the major amount of aircraft expertise up here.

      • > You really need to get informed before you comment. <

        Oh, the irony. 😉

        • Bill7:

          Give me some specifics! You may not care for my analysis, love that, what this is about.

          But you throw out generalists and I list specific details.

          Refute the facts, if you can. But don’t tell me I don’t know my stuff, I do.

          • Actually, the current thread provides a perfect example (out of many).
            – First you say with absolute conviction that “Cows don’t fly”, “Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas are vast wildernesses” and “All Idaho larger airports are in the South and you don’t see a network there either.”
            – When these sweeping, baseless assumptions are subsequently corrected by @AP, you then admit that you “stand corrected”.

            QED.

            Must be tough for you to accept that a single national park in remote northern Montana (Glacier) gets more than twice as many annual tourists as the whole state of Alaska. Remote Badlands National Park in S. Dakota gets a million visitors per year…almost on par with the Alaskan figure.

          • > But you throw out generalists <

            I certainly do not; Hell, I'm not sure what one even looks like..

      • More ignorance and hysteria.
        All named states have popular national parks and monuments, which attract huge numbers of visitors each year. Never heard of Yellowstone, for example?

        • Best airport for Yellowstone is Salt Lake City- closest airport has only one route.
          Cities that are major tourist destinations like Las Vegas, Orlando, New Orleans have man made attractions , more so that natural wonders like Yellowstone or Grand Canyon

          • Yellowstone alone gets 4-6 million visitors per year; the entire state of Alaska gets just 1.4 million tourists annually.

            Angkor in Cambodia gets “only” 3 million visitors per year — enough to keep a nearby airport thriving.

            Plenty of “national park business” for airlines. Ryanair would do it, and make a fat profit, too.

          • It would seem those Yellowstone visitors prefer the scenic route and drive there ( maybe rental) and continue through the park.

            At Idaho Falls which is closer than Salt Lake City , they have about 12 routes and say 150,000 passenger per year ( pre covid)

            Thats a bit ahead of Ketchikan Airport in Alaska ( which has no roads access at all)

          • Bryce:

            the sun is starting to come back pretty good but its still winter and I have to laugh at an uninformed EU type telling us why it is not so when it is.

            So, in the spirit of allied togetherness, I will explain it to you.

            Its called driving. People tend not to fly to US Parks, they drive. For those rich enough there are proximate local airports. Nearest bigger airport to Yellowstone is Boseman Montana. And you have to drive a ways to Yellowstone not to mention not just a day trip.

            All Idaho larger airports are in the South and you don’t see a network there either.

            Even AK a large number drive up here and that is 2400 miles from Seattle and more of course the further East you go.

          • Hello Dukeofurl,

            Re: “At Idaho Falls which is closer than Salt Lake City , they have about 12 routes and say 150,000 passenger per year ( pre covid)”

            The Idaho Falls Airport set a record in 2021 of 445,041 combined arrivals and departures. In the previous record year of 2019 there were 177,768 departures and 177,125 arrivals for a combined total of 352,893 arrivals and departures. See the excerpts below from an Idaho Falls Airport press release as reported on eastidahonews.com.

            “IDAHO FALLS — Idaho’s second busiest airport got a little bit busier in 2021 according to new passenger figures showing that the Idaho Falls Regional Airport (IDA) actually broke previous passenger records set two years ago

            “In 2019 IDA saw record setting numbers with 177,768 passengers departing the airport with an additional 175,125 flying into the facility for a total of 352,893 total passengers for the year. With the onset of the global coronavirus outbreak, those numbers dipped slightly in 2020 to a yearly total of 211,451.

            However, recently released figures show that in 2021, passenger totals have come roaring back with a total of 445,041 travelers catching flights through the airport.”

            “IDA currently has direct flights to 12 major destinations including Las Vegas, San Diego, Los Angeles, Dallas and Seattle. The airport is also adding Boise to the list of direct flights in May.”

            https://www.eastidahonews.com/2022/02/idaho-falls-airport-breaks-passenger-record-in-2021/

            Most of the service by American, Delta and United in and out of Idaho Falls is on regional jets to their hubs, but from those hubs one can fly to Paris, London or Tokyo or a vast selection of small, medium and large US cities with one connection. Allegiant flies mainline aircraft, which as is typical for a ULCC, will take you only to a handful of popular leisure oriented destinations. Allegiant is interested in flying you really cheap to Las Vegas or Disneyland, they are not capable of or interested in taking your business if you want to connect to a foreign country or another small or medium sized US city.

          • Hello Dukeofurl,

            Re: “Best airport for Yellowstone is Salt Lake City- closest airport has only one route.”

            There are several airports much closer to Yellowstone than Salt Lake City that are served by multiple airlines to multiple destinations. Some of these are served only by the US majors with regional flights to and from their hubs, others of these get mainline service all year or during peak tourist season. Mileages are driving miles from Google, except for Jackson Hole to Yellowstone, for which Google insisted on giving me mileage to the West Entrance, instead of to the South Entrance, which is much closer (probably because the South Entrance is presently closed for the winter except to snowmobiles and snow coaches).

            West Yellowstone, MT: 3 miles to Yellowstone West Entrance. Service in summer only by Delta (to Salt Lake City) and United (to Denver). Maybe this is the “closest airport” that you were thinking of?

            http://www.yellowstoneairport.org/flights.shtml

            Jackson Hole, WY Airport: 57 miles to Yellowstone South Entrance and 5 miles to Grand Teton National Park. Served by Alaska, American, Delta and United.

            https://www.jacksonholewy.com/getting-here/winter-air-schedule/

            Bozeman, MT Yellowstone International Airport: 78.6 miles to Yellowstone North Entrance. Served by Alaska, Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Sun Country, and United.

            https://bozemanairport.com/flights

            Idaho Falls, ID Idaho Falls Regional Airport: 108.6 miles to Yellowstone West Entrance and 94.9 miles to Grand Teton National Park. Served by Alaska, American, Allegiant, Delta and United.

            https://www.idahofallsidaho.gov/199/Airlines

            Salt Lake City International Airport: 321 miles to Yellowstone West Entrance and 282 miles to Grand Teton National Park. Lots of Airlines.

          • @ TW
            Just because people drive *into* a park doesn’t mean that they want to drive *to* the park. Some may want to enjoy the scenery en route, but most drive simply because there’s no other option. Not everybody wants to unnecessarily spend half a day in a car — most people have limited time and/or have the overhead of having children with them.

            There are airports near national parks that are severely under-utilized. Put in more flights and more people will come — by plane instead of car.

    • No one lives there. Why fly?

      Now…with the new Starlink service where you do not need to fix/register where you are… Ie move wherever anytime… this may change. $500 a month for this kind of freedom is peanut. Get a really nice RV and float around.

      Verdamnt…-19C in Minneapolis this morning. Why am I there?

      • > Get a really nice RV and float around. <

        To each his own, I guess. The above sounds like hell to me: the older I get, the more that rootedness in a particular place means to me.

    • Hello Bryce,

      Re: “From those route maps it looks as if carriers don’t care too much about Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas …”

      According to the route map on the Frontier Airlines Webpage, but not the one posted by Mr. Hamilton, Frontier serves the following cities. I believe that some of these routes are seasonal.

      Billings, Montana
      Bozeman,Montana
      Jackson Hole, WY
      Glacier Park/Kalispell, Wyoming
      Missoula, Montana

      https://www.flyfrontier.com/travel/my-trips/route-map/?mobile=true

      It also depends on which carrier you are talking about. I live near Idaho Falls, Idaho, which is served by Alaska, Allegiant, American and United.

      Delta, which I usually fly, also flies to Boise, Pocatello, Sun Valley, and Twin Falls in Idaho.

      Full service carriers in the US try to build a network to serve as many small and medium size cities as they can profitably. With their higher prices, the full service carriers can make money on routes that would not be profitable for ULCC’s. The ULCC’s only want to fly on busier routes where they can consistently fill planes.

        • Hello Transworld,

          Thank you for the compliment. I hope that you keep posting here even though you take quite a bit of flak for disagreeing with many of the prevailing opinions here. I find discussion of a variety of opinions more interesting than discussion being dominated by a prevailing point of view. A little sarcasm can be fun sometimes, but maybe because I was a science major instead of a political science major, my tastes run more to simply stating your opinion and your evidence rather than polemics. People are free to agree with you or not.

          • @ AP
            The “flak” isn’t for “disagreeing with many of the prevailing opinions here”: it’s for the ranting, rambling, posturing, preaching and self-righteousness that’s regularly manifested.
            He might do well to take your advice by “simply stating his opinion” without the accompanying theatrics.

      • @AP
        Delighted to hear that Spirit/Frontier at least offer some services to the states mentioned.
        Next question: from where, and how often? For example, with Frontier, Bozeman (MT) is only served from four cities directly — two of which are in Mexico! Not exactly what you’d call a network.

        I disagree with your statement about ULCCs and profitability. In Europe, ULCCs have long discovered that if you provide the route then the passengers will come. The high fares charged by legacy carriers are an impediment to many tourists.

      • @AP:

        -> ” Delta, which I usually fly, also flies to Boise, Pocatello, Sun Valley, and Twin Falls in Idaho.”

        It appears Delta serves the above airports thru’ its regional partner(s) with rjs like E185 and CRJ2.

        • Hello Pedro,

          Re: “It appears Delta serves the above airports thru’ its regional partner(s) with rjs like E185 and CRJ2.”

          This is almost mostly true for most of these airports most of the time; however, Boise varies between 50/50 mainline/regional and almost all mainline depending on the time of the year, and Idaho Falls over the time I have lived there sometimes has seen mainline A319’s during the busiest times of the year. From 4-11 to 6-28 when the Jackson, WY airport will be closed for construction this year, Idaho Falls will be having a couple of mainline flights a day. Pocatello and Twin Falls mostly get single class CRJ 200’s; however, as of late Idaho Falls has been getting mostly 3 class CRJ 700’s and Sun Valley had been mostly getting 3 class E175’s. Was E185 a typo? If such a thing exists Delta does not have any of them. See examples below per Delta’s website.

          Boise to Salt Lake City on Monday 2-2-8-22.
          6:00 AM /Flight 1718 / Mainline A319
          11:35 AM /Flight 3856 / Regional E175
          1:11 PM / Flight 1710 / Mainline A319
          3:46 PM / Flight 3743 / Regional E175
          7:42 PM / Flight 2690 / Mainline A220-100

          Boise to Salt Lake City on Monday 6-20-22
          6:00 AM / Flight 1718 / Mainline A319
          11:42 AM / Flight 1551 / Mainline A319
          1:10 PM / Flight 1710 / Mainline A319
          3:30 PM / Flight 1537 / Mainline A319
          7:35 PM / Flight 1435 / Mainline A319

          Idaho Falls to Salt Lake City on Monday 2-28-20
          6:00 AM/ Flight 3559 / Regional CRJ 700
          11:45 AM / Flight 3668 /Regional CRJ 700
          6:10 PM /Flight 3689 / Regional CRJ 700

          Idaho Falls to Salt Lake City on Monday 6-20-22.
          6:20 AM/Flight 1752 / Mainline A220-100
          12:00 PM / Flight 3648 / Regional CRJ 700
          1:30 PM / Flight 1702 / Mainline A220-300
          3:25 PM / Flight 3807 / Regional CRJ 700
          6:59 PM / Flight 3534 / Regional CRJ 700

          By using a variety of aircraft with seating capacities ranging from 50 (CRJ 200) to 132 (A319), and catering to customers who are willing to pay more than bargain basement prices for the convenience of flying instead of driving, Delta is able to profitably maintain service to all the above mentioned communities of varying sizes throughout the year (unlike ULCC’s who often suspend service during slow travel times), often with a choice of several flight times each day. Aircraft size is matched to the demand in each city as it varies through the time of day and the time of the year. This is more expensive than just operating one size of aircraft; however, it allows cities like Pocatello and Twin Falls which I doubt will ever generate enough passengers to fill 180 seat ULCC A320’s, no matter how low the ULCC’s drop their prices, to have the convenience of airline service for those who are willing and able to pay more than a bargain basement price for it.

          Whether the inhabitants of large cities that get served by ULCC’s want to believe it or not, there are many small cities in the flyover states that are very happy to have such airline service. Cows may not fly, but successful ranchers do, as do the local farm equipment dealers, and the doctors and lawyers serve the people in these small cities. And none of the aforementioned people are likely to be in need of seeking out the cheapest possible airline ticket.

          • Boise also gets non-stop Delta mainline service to and from Minneapolis (year round I believe) and Atlanta (peak travel periods only). See the examples below form Delta’s website.

            Boise to Minneapolis on Monday 6-20-22
            5: 44 AM / Flight 2105 / Mainline A320
            12:30 PM / Flight 2857 / Mainline A320
            2:54 PM / Flight 1517 / Mainline A320

            Boise to Atlanta on Monday 6-20-22
            12:46 PM / Flight 1111 / A321

            For comparison, here are the flights offered by ULCCs Frontier and Spirit to Boise, Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Sun Valley, and Twin Falls on Monday 2-28-22 and Monday 6-20-22.

            Monday 2-28-22
            None, and none to anywhere at all in Idaho.

            Monday 6-20-22
            None, and none to anywhere at all in Idaho.

            I can’t be bothered to care at all about poor service airlines that don’t fly to anywhere in the state that I live in.

            Allegiant does fly to Boise and Idaho Falls with their typical schedule of departures to leisure vacation destinations mostly on days geared to weekend vacation trips. Want to connect to somewhere else? Then don’t fly Allegiant, they don’t do connections on their flights or to other airline’s flights. If you are a business person that travels during the work week for business, or to a variety of locations across the US or World, instead of to Disneyland or Las Vegas on weekends, then Allegiant will not be of much use to you

          • @AP:

            Right now DL operates A319 to fly BTW BOI and MSP.

            How many Delta flights from BOI are run by regional partners each day, and how many are run by DL’s mainline aircraft each day right now?

          • Maybe the Combined Airlines after the merger will get the A220s to compete with Delta head to head to some of these destinations. They have 100s of A320s on order, so it could make sense as they rationalize the fleet and route structure.

          • Hello Pedro,

            Re:”How many Delta flights from BOI are run by regional partners each day, and how many are run by DL’s mainline aircraft each day right now?”

            On 2-10-22 according to flightradar 24 there were 14 Delta scheduled service departures from Boise, of which 6 or 42.9% (6/14=0.429) were on mainline aircraft. There was also one Delta Private jets departure (on a Challenger 350). The regional vs. mainline breakdown will vary with day of the week and time of the year, with February being a fairly slow travel month for Boise during which the percentage of regional flights will be near or at a peak. See below for all scheduled airline service departures from Boise on 2-10-22 according to flightradar 24 (see link below). Listed by actual (not scheduled) departure time. For airlines with regional and mainline divisions, R = Regional, M= Mainline.

            https://www.flightradar24.com/data/airports/boi

            Summary for all Airlines.

            US Big 3
            American: 5 flights, all regional
            Delta: 14 flights, 8 regional, 6 or 42.9.% mainline
            United: 12 flights, 10 regional, 2 or 16.7% mainline

            Major
            Alaska: 27 flights, 25 regional, 2 or 7.4% mainline
            Southwest: 10 flights, all 737-700 or 800’s

            ULCC
            Allegiant: One A319 headed for Las Vegas (mostly filled with financially challenged low rollers?) Given the pre-occupation and admiration of many commenters here for ULCC’s, I imagine that if Allegiant added another flight, there would be great excitement here that Allegiant’s service out of Boise has increased by 100%.
            Frontier: Zero flights out of Boise, or out of anywhere else in Idaho.
            Spirit: Zero flights out of Boise, or anywhere else in Idaho.

            Note to those who offered theories as to why there was no airline service to Idaho based on Frontier and Spirit Airlines route maps that showed no service to Idaho: One should not assume that just because small low budget airlines with fleets of less than 200 aircraft do not fly somewhere, that it follows that high quality major airlines with fleets of more than 800 aircraft, plus another 400 to 600 aircraft at their regional partners, do not fly there.

            Alaska Airlines
            7:08 AM/ Alaska 2514/R/DHC-8/Portland
            7:46 AM/Alaska 3379/R/E175/San Francisco
            9:21 AM/Alaska 2177/R/DHC-8/Seattle
            9:32 AM/Alaska 540/M/737-800/Seattle
            10:35 AM/Alaska 2593/R/E175/Seattle
            10:47 AM/Alaska 2582/R/E175/Austin
            10:50 AM/Alaska 2584/R/E175/Chicago
            10:55 AM/Alaska 2373/R/DHC-8/Spokane
            11:12 AM/Alaska 2193/R/DHC-8/Seattle
            11:22 AM/Alaska 2130/R/E175/Phoenix
            11:39 AM/Alaska 2029/R/DHC-8/Portland
            12:03 PM/Alaska 3490/R/E175/Los Angeles
            12:29 PM/Alaska 3497/R/E175/San Diego
            1:31 PM/Alaska 3418/R/E175/San Jose
            1:44 PM/Alaska 2492/R/DHC-8/Pullman
            1:46 PM/Alaska 2172/R/DHC-8/Seattle
            2:58 PM/Alaska 125/M/737-900ER/Seattle
            5:01PM/Alaska 2594/R/DHC-8/Portland
            5:08 PM/Alaska 2104/R/E175/Seattle
            5:38 PM/Alaska 3449/R/E175/San Francisco
            6:00 PM/Alaska 2577/R/DHC-8/Spokane
            6:13 PM/Alaska 2062/R/E175/Los Angeles
            7:00 PM/Alaska 2095/R/DHC-8/Seattle
            7;: PM/Alaska 2015/R/E175/Everett
            7:35 PM/Alaska 2586/R/E175/Sacramento
            7:38 PM/Alaska 2237/R/DHC-8/Portland
            9:11 PM/Alaska 2125/R/DHC-8/Seattle

            Allegiant Airlines
            4:45 PM/Allegiant G47/A319/Las Vegas

            American Airlines
            6:34 AM/American 3609/R/E175/Dallas
            6:54 AM/American 3051/CRJ 700/Phoenix
            11:51 AM/American 797/R/CRJ 900/Phoenix
            12:08 PM/American 3660/R/E175/Dallas
            3:41 PM/American 3941/R/E175/Dallas

            Delta Airlines
            6:20 AM/Delta 1718/M/A319/Salt Lake City
            6:22 AM /Delta 2105/M/A319/Minneapolis
            6:56 AM/Delta 3627/R/E175/Seattle
            8:09 AM/Delta 3503/R/E175/R/Seattle
            9:07 AM/Delta 3617/R/E175/Los Angeles
            10:41 AM/Delta 3561/R/E175/Seattle
            11:44 AM/Delta 3856/R/E175/Salt Lake City
            1:27 PM/Delta 1710/M/A319/Salt Lake City
            2:22 PM/Delta 835/M/A321/Atlanta
            3:35 PM/Delta 1517/M/A319/Minneapolis
            3:51 PM/Delta 3743/R/E175/Salt Lake City
            5:31 PM/ Delta 4080/R/E175/Los Angeles
            6:09 PM/Delta 3740/R/E175/Seattle
            7:43 PM/Delta 2690/M/A220-100/Salt Lake City

            Southwest Airlines
            6:25 AM/Southwest 365/737-700/Phoenix
            7:09 AM/Southwest 363/737-700/Oakland
            7:52 AM/Southwest 1652/737-700/Las Vegas
            7:57 AM/Southwest 356/737-700/Denver
            12:52 PM/Southwest 1036/737-800/San Jose
            2:23 PM/Southwest 1296/737-700/Sacramento
            4:02 PM/Southwest 2319/737-800/Denver
            4:51 PM/Southwest 777/737-700/Las Vegas
            5:39 PM/Southwest 2396/737-700/Phoenix
            5:42 PM/Southwest 2203/737-700/Oakland

            United Airlines
            7:02 AM/United 4678/R/E175/San Francisco
            7:12 AM/United 1782/M/737-800/Denver
            8:07 AM/United 5247/R/CRJ 700/Los Angeles
            8:28 AM/United 5401/R/E175/Chicago
            8:45 AM/United 5358/R/CRJ 200/San Francisco
            9:09 AM/United 5268/R/E175/Houston
            10:57 AM/United 4728/R/E175/San Francisco
            2:09 PM/United 5231/R/E175/Denver
            3:39 PM/United 1477/M/737-800/Denver
            5:12 PM/United 4633/R/E175/Chicago
            5:20 PM/United 5270/R/CRJ 200/Denver
            6:35 PM/United 5321/R/CRJ 200/San Francisco

          • @AP:

            Today, it appears DL has 11 flights to BOI:

            – nine (or 82%) are rjs
            DL3743
            DL3713
            DL3831
            DL3712
            DL4120
            DL3550
            DL3543
            DL3743
            DL3713

            – the other two are mainlines

      • AP_ROBERT, “The ULCC’s only want to fly on busier routes where they can consistently fill planes.” Thank you, that’s their business model and it seems to be working very well for them. ULCC are the fastest growing airlines and people know it’s barebones service but the low fares draw them by the plane load.

  2. Sounds like the two companies merging are not
    at all concerned about the Lina Khan appointment and antitrust issues.

    • 5th largest carrier is not going to attract any attention.

      Low emissions is irrelevant to the process so that is just hype.

      They have to be failing or they would not merge, ergo, a real bonus keeping competition up!.

      • Spirit and Frontier were both majority owned by Indigo Partners before Indigo sold its share. In a way its merely the two coming back together.

        • To be clear, Indigo is still majority owned by Indigo:

          “Shareholders of Frontier [after the merger with Spirit] will own 51.5% of the new company, and seven of the 12 board members will be appointed by Frontier. The largest shareholder is Indigo Partners, whose chairman, Bill Franke, becomes chair of the combined airline. “

  3. I can already hear the rumors that the Boeing MAXes delivery will be postponed. Indigo has a lot of Airbus on order. A lot.

    AB strikes back. Kind of.

    • > AB strikes back. Kind of. <

      Are they, and do they even need to? AB looks to be in the catbird seat to me; nothing to do except sit back and watch (here, have some popcorn..).

      • Spirit has the bulk of the worlds A319neo orders, 39 or so. Perhaps the merger will change that.

    • Ivory:

      Both fleets operate A320 types, I don’t see the relevance to MAX?

      • Argh… you are right. Somehow I mixed with Allegiant. My bad indeed. Where was my brain today.

        • Ivory:

          Been there, done that, not an issue, was having brain cramps trying to make it fit!

          Hard to keep up with who has what.

  4. CNBC is already speculating about the possibility of a future JetBlue/Alaska merger in response to today’s news.
    Of course, those two airlines have “polar opposite” fleets, as opposed to the compatible fleets at Frontier/Spirit.
    CNBC also labeled the Alaska/Virgin acquisition as a “disappointment”.

    Perhaps Alaska should acquire Allegiant, and JetBlue should partner up with Breeze 😏

    • Merging 2 of the worst reliability and customer service US airlines into one might not be that smart if they don’t hire a COO from Delta Airlines and improve their computer systems.
      As their A320neo’s get older their reliability will not improve unless they quickly replace the A320ceo’s and fine tune their A320neo operations with enough traffic reserve aircrafts dotting the US.

  5. Good thing these mergers always, always benefit the little people! I wonder how many jobs will
    be eliminated in this merger, and the mergers to come in response? “We had to do it, to [non]compete ! ”

    Not to worry, though- Lina Khan will save us.

    heh.

    • That will happen at specific airports or routes where the two carriers overlap.
      Not as a ‘two minors’ becoming ‘a single major carrier ‘ issue

    • There does seem to be economies of scale with ULCC phenomenon. Big means cheaper. (except when there is no competition but in this case this is not and issue). Big orders to the manufacturers receive premium pricing because it give AB and BA a consistent bread and butter product to make over years to keep their factories and people busy. Maintenance, training and software, online booking software, spare parts ground handling, catering can be centralised and economised. It’s the McDonalds model for airlines.

      So Spirit and Frontier should be able to get better pricing from AB. It won’t hurt AB due to the economies.

  6. I think its good news for the American Air traveller who will get a ULCC of critical mass with a good route network and the ability to use secondary airports. It doesn’t have much competition in the ULCC area (Allegiant maybe?).
    US citizens will now have access to a ULCC in the mould of Wizz and Ryan Air.
    Even better news would be Ryan Air’s entry into the US market. Maybe an acquisition of Allegiant? Are ‘foreigners’ like Ryan Air welcome?
    In about 2 years time the legacy carriers will smell the coffee.

    • Agreed.
      The US doesn’t yet have the “Ryanair” concept of (U)LCCs operating extensively out of secondary airports. People say that Ryanair was modeled on Southwest, but they differ greatly in the type of airport that they serve. There’s plenty of money to be earned giving “forgotten citizens” in smaller cities a decent network.
      Airports like Fresno (CA) and Saint George (UT) are located right beside heavily-visited natural wonders — but they enjoy minimal service.

  7. Re in my post above: “The ULCC’s only want to fly on busier routes where they can consistently fill planes.”

    Actually, it is more complicated than that. Before COVID and now pretty much again one doesn’t see a lot of empty seats on the US big 3; however, for the big 3 a full plane can range all the way from 50 passengers on a regional CRJ 200, to 306 seats on a Delta 350-900, or 364 seats on a United 777. The range of aircraft that the majors operate spans from 1,500 miles for regional jets to 8,000 plus miles for large wide bodies. The big 3 aircraft have a variety of seating configurations optimized for different routes, and some carry the additional weight of open water survival gear needed for long over water flights (rafts instead of seat cushions for flotation), and kitchens capable of serving good warm meals on very long flights. The big 3 also have the staff and infrastructure needed to support hub ramps where you can make efficient connections from a small city like Idaho Falls to about anywhere in the world. It takes a lot more baggage handlers to transfer baggage between 30 or 40 connecting flights at 30 or 40 different gates in 30 to 40 minutes than it does to transfer bags from one flight at a time at one gate (a typical ULCC smaller city setup) to one baggage carousel. The ULCC’s operate only one aircraft type in one configuration (squalid tightly packed seats with no or minimal food service, staffed and flown by the employees who could not make the cut to earn more at the big 3). With one aircraft type and seating configuration, and low gate counts insufficient to support hub ramps, the ULCC’s can achieve lower costs on largely point to point routes that fit their one aircraft type (range of 180 to 230 seats for Frontier, there are a lot routes flown by the big 3, like Idaho Falls, that can’t come anywhere close to being operated profitably with a 180 seat aircraft), but they cannot hope to offer the range and variety of routes that they big 3 can profitably operate with their wide range of aircraft types and higher prices, or to compete for customers who are looking for comfort and good service instead of the lowest possible price. It is cheaper to have a shop with just one size of hammer and screw driver than one with 10 different sizes and types of hammers and screwdrivers, but the person with the 20 tool shop will be able to hammer and drive a greater variety of nails and screw sizes than the person with a 2 tool shop.

  8. If the Frontier-Spirit merger goes through it will be the end of the traditional yearly competition between Frontier and Spirit for last place in US Airline rankings.

    “You can find more details about The Points Guy’s annual airline ranking here. Or read on to see the results of the overall list, ranked from best to worst.

    The Best And Worst Airlines in America in 2021
    1) Delta Air Lines
    2) Southwest Airlines
    3) United Airlines
    4) Alaska Airlines
    5) American Airlines
    6) JetBlue Airways
    &) Hawaiian Airlines
    8) Spirit Airlines
    9) Frontier Airlines
    10) Allegiant Air”

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurabegleybloom/2021/07/19/ranked-the-best-and-worst-airlines-in-america-in-2021-according-to-new-report/?sh=72b1481872c3

    “Two of the worst-ranked airlines are merging to form a new discount air carrier that will likely upsell you on everything you can think of.

    Spirit Airlines (SAVE) – Get Spirit Airlines, Inc. Report and Frontier Airlines (ULCC) – Get Frontier Group Holdings, Inc. Report, which last month ranked second and third respectively behind JetBlue (JBLU) – Get JetBlue Airways Corporation Report as the worst airlines in a Wall Street Journal survey, on Monday announced a merger valued at $6.6 billion.”

    “The airlines offer some of the lowest prices on airline tickets — but they then charge passengers for other services such as seat selection (if they don’t want to sit in a middle seat) or for carry-on and checked baggage. A small personal item can be brought on the plane. Spirit has even charged passengers for checking in at the airport.

    Both airlines don’t offer complimentary snacks or drinks, but they will gladly charge you for them. And leg room is often about 5 or 6 inches tighter than standard airline flights, according to a Nerdwallet report.

    Southwest, on the other hand, offers low-cost air tickets, as well as many free services. The airline doesn’t charge for a personal item or carry-on bag and the first two checked bags are free. It doesn’t charge a flight-change or cancellation fee and soft drinks are free, according to travel charges listed on its website.

    And JetBlue offers free wi-fi on all its flights.”

    https://www.thestreet.com/investing/two-of-the-worst-airlines-are-merging-and-will-upcharge-you

    • There is nothing underhand with what the ULCC do. It costs an airline money if a passenger checks in at the airport with air port based staff rather than online with a cell phone. The airport charges the airline for the space it uses. It costs the airline money for an airport to handle baggage and for the airline to print a ticket, attach it and use baggage sortation. It costs an airline money to provide meals. The meals are more expensive if they are not booked and fully paid for on line days in advance. (The meals are pretty good in my experience and if you need gluten nut free free vegan you can find something). Many people can make do with 15lbs of carry on baggage and pay extra to have that doubled. Many people don’t need checked luggage and are happy to pay for 0lbs 20lbs, 30lbs or 40lbs more for outsize. It costs money to change a booking via a phone call or even online so a fee is charged.

      If one does want full luggage and meal an legacy carrier if booked 2-4 weeks in advance in a inflexible ticket is only slightly more expensive (say 15%)

      They give a lot of people that wouldn’t have a chance to travel by air to do so. Often hard working people travelling to jobs or home from jobs as well as holidays.

      I’m not so sure the staff of legacy carriers are poorly paid, that’s certainly not the case in LCC and ULCC in Europe such as EasyJet, Ryan Air or Wizz.

      I think American workers and unions are often looking for healthcare benefits that are effectively part of a Bismarckian or Beveridge system in other countries.

      • Agreed.
        People bitch extensively about LCCs, but they’ve revolutionized air travel and most of them offer very good service (at least in Europe and Asia-Pacific).
        Many of the legacy carriers are now starting to introduce similar baggage fee structures to LCCs — perfectly logical, and far more economical.
        I have zero problem with paying a basic price for the flight and then selecting my own “add-ons” — it’s exactly the same when ordering a take-out meal or a car, isn’t it?

        • LCC and even ULCC are not that uncomfortable for the shortish journeys of 1/2 to 3 hours. The 28 inch pitch seats have thin cushions so leg room and recline is not as compromised as imagined. You need to be sensible and not do a 6 hour red eye in an seat without recline.
          The idea of an A330 in 3/3/3 or B767 in 2/4/2 sounds bad and I’d never do it but these are niche leisure airlines or specialist aircraft for say the Philipino markets it’s not what the LCC or ULCC do with their single aisles.
          As you noted some legacy carriers seem to be developing cheap options where flexibility, bags are limited in size and number. Certainly Lufthansa had when I used them and it worked.
          Looking at the spirit frontier route map it seems neither carrier has penetration into Canada. It’s probably difficult given border security. NAFATA is no EU. Spirit has penetrated into Central America however. It will be interesting to see how spirits A319neo works out in serving smaller markets.

          (red eye 6 hours in 28 inches is

      • One thing is knowing what you pay for like luggage, seat width and pitch, rebooking fees, meals, selecting seat you can normally find.
        But cleanliness, departure and arrival on time, refund processing time, luggage handling speed and quality are not in their ads but for you and your buddies to discover or digging into the web. Some ULCC in the US should spend some time with Qatar Airways luggage handling and processing.

    • ‘Best’ as determined by a frequent flyer program rater means nothing to people who don’t want to pay for things they don’t need.

      ‘Free’ means you pay for it whether or not you use it.

      Southwest is no longer a LCC, which used to mean flying direct with low fares. It now flies direct but has average fares are 50% higher than Frontier. Your other ‘best’ airlines have average fares twice as high as Frontier.

      There is always room for low fare airlines despite disparagement from those who don’t want to compete on price.

    • Like low cost fast food (LCFF?). You know what you are getting and you get what you pay for. Nothing wrong with that.

  9. This interesting AIG article is concentrating on the record-beating fuel efficiency that the new, merged airlines can achieve:

    “With the addition of the A321neo, joining the already fuel-efficient A320neo, the goal of 105 seat miles per gallon by 2025 appears to be something that the new Frontier could not only meet, but exceed…The combined ULCC will be the largest North American operator of the fuel-efficient A320neo family. Indigo Partners favors Pratt & Whitney engines and since both carriers chose that engine, standardizing will likely result in maintenance cost synergies post-merger.”

    “That reduction in fuel and maintenance costs from the new aircraft should offset their capital cost differential and enable the combined ULCC to be disruptive in key markets.”

    https://airinsight.com/spirit-and-frontier-a-fuel-efficient-combined-large-ulcc/

      • Oops!!

        -> ” Influential customer has “hard time seeing” 787 deliveries *resuming before July*, 777X certification likely to *slip past 2023*.”

        As I said before:

        Boeing has told the carrier to expect certification “in the next month, or two or three,” ‘

        I’ll believe when I see it!

        • Contrary to what our poster posted before:

          BA hasn’t received permission from FAA for certification trials yet!

          • Indeed.
            Not only that: there’s also an issue with the EASA, which is tending away from a derivative certification path.

            “Aviation Week notes that EASA’s ‘watch-list’ contains many items that it wishes to have oversight on as part of the certification process. One airline executive told the publication that the requests are so significant, they have the potential to delay the program by several years.”

            “With more oversight from international regulators anticipated and the potential that even the FAA might move to undertake a clean sheet-style certification of the type, the late 2023 date for service entry could even turn out to be overly optimistic.”

            https://iatanews.com/2021/02/08/how-will-easa-certify-the-boeing-777x/

      • Thanks for that link to the original source.
        Not a fan of the Twit-twit, for various reasons.

        Now the talk is of the 787 deliveries restarting
        in July [2022], it seems. A couple of days ago it was April. Interesting- my guess is that the maker knows more than they’re letting on, and that what they know is not
        so good, regarding the 787.

        July, eh?

      • It is interesting there is always a wide latitude on the board for off topic subjects from Airbus fanboys.

        When I post an off topic item, it is always censored.

        • NWithheld: You get censored because you use a phony email address in violation of Reader Comment rules that prevent me from reaching out to you to deal with your off-topic comments.

          Hamilton

          • And since this also has a phony email, this now will be blocked as well.

          • And since this also has a phony email, this now will be blocked as well.

  10. On top of cancelling the Qatar order for 50 A321s, Airbus is now also canceling Qatar’s A350s on a piecemeal basis:

    “PARIS, (Reuters) – A $600 million contractual and safety dispute between Airbus (AIR.PA) and Qatar Airways deepened on Tuesday when the European planemaker revoked orders for two A350-1000 jets, days after ripping up an order from the Gulf carrier for 50 A321neos.”

    https://www.reuters.com/business/aerospace-defense/airbus-revokes-order-two-a350-1000-jets-qatar-dispute-2022-02-08/?rpc=401&amp;

    And without a paywall:
    https://yournews.com/2022/02/08/2296301/airbus-revokes-more-plane-orders-in-qatar-dispute/#:~:text=Airbus%20revokes%20more%20plane%20orders%20in%20Qatar%20dispute,order%20from%20the%20Gulf%20carrier%20for%2050%20A321neos.

    • I cannot remember an OE and airline getting into such a bad fight. Apparently Al Baker really crossed a red line, a company like Airbus avoids “fighting” customers, even if they feel abused. it doesn’t promote a customer friendly image. Marketing hates it.

      • I get the impression that AB is now methodically, thoroughly and irrevocably ending its relationship with Qatar…at least as long as AAB calls the shots at the airline.

      • Appears so. Qatar also went ahead and ordered some Boeing’s, don’t have the link, but I am pretty sure…

  11. Interesting announcement from the Russian State News Agency:
    Summarizing — MAX re-cert is proceeding without any need for haste.

    “The work continues calmly, in a scheduled manner. I would like to note also that the Aviation Register is now extremely busy with completely different work related to the extension of operating conditions of the MC-21-300 [airplane], expansion of operating condition of the Ka-62 helicopter, certification of Il-114 and Baikal airplanes, and so on,” he added.

    https://tass.com/economy/1400589

    It seems that China re-cert is also proceeding at a ponderous pace — still no formal green light to fly again.

  12. Good lord…more bad PR for BA:
    “Warning bells are ringing: Is ungrounded 737 MAX really safe?”
    “Safety advocate Ed Pierson sounds the alarm on Boeing 737 MAX safety after its ungrounding.”

    “Pilots have reported 42 instances of inflight malfunctions on the 737 MAX in the United States since the plane was ungrounded in November 2020.

    “Of these 42 incidents, 22 involve flight control system problems, the same system that was involved in the two Boeing 737 MAX tragedies in 2018 and 2019. Ed Pierson’s report concluded, “[I]nflight malfunctions on the 737 MAX are occurring at a higher rate now, after the FAA’s 20-month recertification, than they were before the start of the recertification.” This data is not easily accessible to the public because it resides in two obscure government databases, one at the FAA and the other at NASA.”

    https://eturbonews.com/3017164/warning-bells-are-ringing-is-ungrounded-737-max-really-safe/

      • -> Aboulafia laid out at the conference the larger strategic vacuum at Boeing. “Something has to happen this year. If it doesn’t, then the market-share situation just gets much worse and you can expect this to be a 70/30 market (split in favor of Airbus) in say a dozen years.”

        -> Young engineers watch the growth in commercial space, the salaries offered and the media coverage of Musk and Bezos, and see that as their future.

        They don’t see that same excitement at Boeing.

        “Boeing really needs to rethink its relationship with its engineers and its people”

        https://mobile.twitter.com/dominicgates/status/1492268206806863873

        • BA cut R&D by 44% in last two years.

          Talent is lost. Can BA master necessary resources to jump start a new jet program this year??
          If Aboulafia’s worst(?) scenario becomes true, would it be the end of BA as we know today??

          Industry sources are now forecasting delivery of 787 would restart no earlier than the second half.

  13. It’s said that the heavier 777-8F has better fuel economy than the A350F. Could it be true?

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