Frontier chooses Springs for hangar

Frontier Airlines will announce today that it has chosen Colorado Springs as the site for a new hangar to handle heavy maintenance work on its jets.

The move will bring several hundred well-paying jobs to the Springs over the next few years, bolster the city's economy and possibly help its airport lure more businesses down the road.

But the news isn't so hot for Denver, where Frontier currently handles its heavy maintenance in a hangar it leases from Continental Airlines at DIA. The city will lose roughly 220 jobs, which typically pay an average of $58,500, and miss out on future growth expected at the new facility.

Denver-based Frontier declined to comment but is scheduled to make an official announcement at a news conference this morning in Colorado Springs.

"I'm sure it will be relevant for the Springs and for Denver," said Frontier spokesman Joe Hodas.

The carrier said previously the new hangar will employ up to 200 workers initially and as many as 350 in a decade.

The 101,000-square-foot building will cost as much as $40 million to get up and running, the carrier estimates.

Frontier doesn't fly to the Springs, but observers have said the hangar could boost the city's chances of getting service.

The carrier considered a handful of airports along the Front Range as it explored cheaper alternatives to building the hangar at its DIA hub, where taxes for aircraft parts are higher than elsewhere in the state. It then narrowed the list to DIA and the Springs, both of which offered incentives to lure the hangar.

Airports hoping to land the facility said it would have been a catalyst for aviation-related jobs and development grants.

"We really weren't that surprised, but we were very disappointed because Frontier would've been such a driver of federal funds for this airport," said Dennis Heap, manager of Front Range Airport, which would have had to strengthen its runways to accommodate Frontier's jets.

Economic development officials and executives at DIA and Colorado Springs Airport declined to comment until Frontier officially announces its decision.