Thursday’s announcement is a big deal for the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport – a very big deal.
When Frontier made the decision 20 months ago to move their once-daily flight to Denver from the Dayton Airport to Cincinnati, the industry openly questioned the wisdom behind the relocation. After all, CVG was an airport known for a lackluster support of low cost carriers and those who have tried to operate from the airport eventually left.
Frontier decided to make that move and in May of 2013 began offering their daily service from Cincinnati to Denver, one flight a day. Within a few short months Frontier was preparing for a press conference and the skeptics leaped forward to proclaim “Already? They are leaving CVG already? That did not take long.”
As it turns out that press conference was to announce expanded service from Cincinnati, with service to Trenton, NJ. (This is where I envision the skeptics as the little movie minions saying, “WHAT???”) During the 7 years Frontier served the Dayton Airport they never expanded their service and now, after just a few months, they were increasing the service from CVG.
And as it turns out, they were just getting started.
Later announcements revealed Frontier would be adding service to Washington, D.C. and an additional departure to their Denver HUB, bringing the total number of weekly departures to 20.
Then on Thursday the big announcement came that Frontier was adding five destinations, effectively doubling their service to now 40 departures a week. Within a span of 15 months Frontier went from one flight a day to Denver to now offering service from CVG to 8 cities.
During the week I spoke with numerous Frontier officials who expressed how pleased they were at the support they were receiving from the CVG market. Travelers from Dayton, Lexington, Columbus, Indianapolis and others were driving to Cincinnati to take advantage of the low cost fares on nonstop flights.
Quite the turnaround from CVG’s past history.
Of course the skeptics, who never seem to run out of energy, still jump up to say that CVG has the highest airfares from any major airport in the country. My response is that we certainly cannot deny that from a historical perspective, CVG has had the highest air fares of other airport and has held that distinction (top 3) for a number of years.
Many thought when Frontier and Allegiant brought their low cost service to Cincinnati we would see an immediate change, but that was not the case. In part because the reports from the Department of Transportation reflect data from previous quarters and given the brief CVG-history of both Frontier and Allegiant there has not been ample time to see their impact on the average fares from the airport.
The other consideration here is that Frontier and Allegiant only represent 6% of the traffic from the airport and more is needed to see a substantial impact on the average fare. With the announcement on Thursday, the fall flight schedule should bring this number up to 12%+ and we need to see 15% at a minimum to see a dramatic shift down on those average air fares.
With the success of Frontier and Allegiant, I suspect we will be seeing additional low cost carriers coming to CVG. With the kind of incredible support the community has been showing since the two low cost carriers came to the airport, it’s all but certain another airline will quickly join the party – meaning our average air fares will continue to decrease.
Lost in all of the press coverage is credit to the CVG Administration team, for making so much of this possible. Believe me when I say (given my decades in the airline industry) it is not easy to get an airline to initiate service to a new city. It takes time and a great deal of effort and when you consider the past history of CVG with low cost carriers, it makes the recent arrival and expansion of two low cost carriers even more impressive.
Well done CVG.