Frontier Airlines, the Denver-based regional carrier, is about to become very cheap.
This week Bill Franke secured an agreement to acquire the carrier. Franke is a seasoned airline leader. Most recently he revived Spirit Airlines, turning it into an ultralow-cost carrier with exceptionally low fares, relatively poor customer service and lots of fees. The strategy was an enormous success.
Franke is apparently planning to embrace a similar strategy with Frontier.
Bill Franke clearly understands marketing strategy. He knows there are only two ways to succeed in a market with ample supply: be cheap or be different. With Spirit he fully the embraced the strategy of being cheap. Now it is apparently going to do the same thing with Frontier.
This is good news for Frontier. The airline has been struggling for many years, searching for a reason to exist and getting battered in Denver by the both United and Southwest. The outlook wasn’t encouraging, either.
By becoming an ultralow-cost carrier, Frontier can create a distinct place to play in the market and attract new flyers.
This move puts carriers like Jet Blue and Virgin America is a very difficult spot. These carriers have been successful by providing good service and reasonable prices. To some degree, they were both cheaper and better than United, Delta and American. This won’t work as well in the future. Fliers looking for low fares will shift to the very cheap carriers like Spirit and Frontier. Travelers looking for service and a broad network will stick with the big players.
Going forward, carriers will have to embrace a clear strategy.
United, American and Delta will be global, premium brands.
Spirit and Frontier will be ultralow-cost players.
Jet Blue, Virgin America and Southwest will have to figure out what to do.