Frontier Holds its Own Against Southwest, United

But 14 months after Southwest's return to Denver, Frontier so far is standing up to the fierce competition, not only from Southwest, but from No. 2 United Airlines.

Southwest plans to grow well beyond its current 37 daily flights at Denver, so the downward pressure on fares on competitive routes is likely to continue.

'It's always the same'

Pete McGlade, vice president of schedule planning, says Southwest hasn't been surprised by anything since it began flying in Denver. "It's always the same. They see our fares, lower their prices and increase their capacity."

The financial impact on United is even harder to see. The carrier declined a request to interview senior officials about the Denver market competition. Spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said, "(The) new market dynamics in Denver represent only 1% of our business in this important hub."

United and Frontier have some competitive advantages over bare-bones Southwest. Frontier offers assigned seats and live TV. United's customers get its global service network, attractive frequent-flier program and what Boyd says has become very good customer service.

And Frontier enjoys a bit of a boost, mainly because it's the little guy in the competition and because it's the hometown carrier. Traveler Sheri Facinelli of Denver says she sticks with Frontier when she can, because "I think Denver needs the competition."

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