Frontier Airlines chief executive Jeff Potter said negotiations to build a new heavy-maintenance hangar in Denver have progressed in recent weeks.
"I've been pleased at the movement as of late from the city and county of Denver," Potter said last week. Denver International Airport was one of seven airports in Colorado that submitted proposals to Frontier for the maintenance facility, which would employ about 180 to 200 initially and up to 350 over the next 10 years.
Airports that originally submitted proposals to Frontier for the hangar were DIA, Front Range Airport, Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport, Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins/Loveland and Greeley-
Weld County Airport.
Rocky Mountain Metropolitan, for example, offered a $1.4 million incentive package.
Frontier has narrowed the list down to three sites it is seriously considering, though it has declined to specify which airports made the shortlist.
"They've never made it a secret that they certainly would prefer to be at DIA," said Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport manager Kenny Maenpa.
In talks, Frontier has sought relief from a sales and use tax on aircraft parts charged by the city and county of Denver.
"They understand our issues," said Potter, who will step down from his role at Frontier next month. "They've been very creative at addressing the economic impact that that creates."
Denver City Council President Michael Hancock said recently that though the city is limited in granting relief from the tax to a particular airline, it has been "looking at other ways that we may help them alleviate some of the financial pressure on them."
Removing the tax "won't be done as part of this deal," Hancock said. "I think the reality is it's something we as legislators have to look at down the road."
Frontier has been arguing the issue for years - in 2001, for example, when it was considering construction of a $30 million aircraft maintenance complex at DIA, Frontier chairman Sam Addoms said Denver was the only city among the top U.S. airline hubs that charged the tax on such parts. United Airlines has also lobbied against the tax in the past.
United Airlines spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said United would support a measure to eliminate or provide relief from the parts tax "as long as implementation is equitable to all airlines."
Frontier leases a portion of Continental Airlines' hangar at Denver International Airport but wants new maintenance facilities at DIA. It is already in negotiations with DIA for a hangar facility for line maintenance. The heavy maintenance hangar would be for less-frequent major work on planes.
The Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. helped Denver fashion its offer, said executive vice president Tom Clark.
"All of us want to get an answer here quickly and it's been pretty intense for all the communities around the state and obviously we want to keep Frontier here," Clark said.
Staff writer Kelly Yamanouchi can be reached at 303-954-1488 or firstname.lastname@example.org