Frontier route cut to hit pocketbooks of Milwaukee airline travelers

Jay Sorgi

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Photo: Video by tmj4.com

Frontier route cut to hit pocketbooks of Milwaukee airline travelers

By Jay Sorgi. CREATED May 1, 2012

MILWAUKEE - The impending Frontier Airlines route cutbacks at Mitchell International is gong to hit the pocketbook of many people who fly out of Mitchell International Airport, according to an airline expert.

"For these particular routes, you can rest assured that ticket prices are going to go up pretty quickly," said Rick Seaney, the co-founder of FareCompare.com, on Newsradio 620 WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Morning News."

On June 1st, Frontier Airlines is cutting non-stop service to Columbus, Indianapolis, Nashville, Omaha and Pittsburgh and from Kansas City and New York.

"On these particular routes, there'll be less competition on these non-stop routes.  You've got AirTran that's being scooped up by Southwest.  That ruins two hotly-competitive airlines on certain routes."

For people who have flights already scheduled on Frontier, Seaney says there are options.

"Frontier will work with you to try to get you to another airline.  They have some reciprocal agreements.  In this particular case, if you have a flight very soon and you need to get something going, contact (your) credit card company so you can get your money back.  If you do that within two months of your original purchase, you can do that with your credit card company."

Seaney warns us, though, to move fast.

"I'd be shopping really quickly, because ticket prices are going up dramatically, especially for June and July travel."

Seaney explains that Frontier is simply responding to a lack of profitability while following the airline industry trend of making a service cut move quickly.

"I think part of it is Republic Airways (Frontier's parent company) has decided they're going to de-focus this particular airport.  They're already struggling, fighting it out in Denver with United and Southwest.  They really have struggled to make any profit whatsoever," said Seaney. 

"The bottom line is that airlines basically pull the rip cord a little quicker than they used to when it comes to doing cutbacks.  We've seen, over the last four years, almost 10 percent of our capacity cut, which has driven up prices to some of the highest level we've seen of airfare tickets in the domestic U.S."

What does this mean for Mitchell International Airport as a facility?  Seaney says the picture may not be as rosy, but is still positive in terms of affordability for travelers.

"Milwaukee had turned out to be a really good focus city for something just outside of Chicago and closer to Minneapolis.   I think you'll be OK in the scheme of things, just not as good as you had it," said Seaney.

"You were probably in the top 10 percent of the cheaper airports before.  Now, you're probably in the third 10 percent, which means 20 to 30 percent cheapest.  That's still pretty good.  There's still a lot of activity going on.  You still have a lot of people who drive to Milwaukee as an alternative to some of the smaller airports in Wisconsin."