Look for Frontier Airlines to keep expanding its service in Mexico, possibly including more flights from Kansas City, the carrier's chief executive said Wednesday.
Jeff Potter, president and chief executive of Denver-based Frontier, was in Kansas City on Wednesday and spoke at the American Royal's "Boots, Barbecue & Business Luncheon" at Kemper Arena.
Potter said about 10 percent of Frontier's business now is service to Mexico, four years after the low-cost carrier began flying there. Frontier currently has weekly flights from Kansas City International Airport to Cancun and Puerto Vallarta.
In mid-December, Frontier also will begin flying to Cabo San Lucas from KCI.
Frontier flies from Denver and other U.S. cities to other Mexican leisure destinations, including Acapulco, Cozumel, Ixtapa and Mazatlan. In December, Frontier will start flying to Guadalajara from Denver.
"We're excited about what we're doing in Mexico," Potter said after his luncheon presentation. "With the size we've gained in Mexico, we can leverage that into more service in many of our markets, like Kansas City. If there's another good place in Mexico and the opportunity is there, we'd probably consider more Kansas City service."
Frontier also has six nonstop flights daily to Denver from Kansas City. Two months ago, Southwest Airlines began offering service between Denver and Kansas City.
Southwest began operating out of Denver International Airport earlier this year, creating competition for Frontier and Denver's biggest operator, United Airlines.
Airline analysts predicted that Southwest's presence would create problems for Frontier.
Potter said such forecasts were overstated and Frontier has a loyal customer base.
"Southwest being in there certainly has changed the marketplace, but we've been preparing this company for 12 or 13 years to compete against anybody," Potter said. "Kansas City is a good example. You have a big Southwest presence here, but you also have Midwest Airlines competing very well against them. Denver is no different."
Frontier recently lowered its earnings forecast for its fiscal second quarter, which ended Sept. 30. The company expects to earn 1 cent to 5 cents a share, down from a previous prediction of 10 cents a share.
Some airline analysts said Frontier has been hurt by Southwest and United, but Potter dismissed that notion.
"Like every other airline, we are not immune from the effects of the August terrorist incident in London," he said. "You can see it in the bookings. It has nothing to do with pricing pressures" from competitors.
Potter has been with Frontier since 1995, except for nearly a 12-month period that began in May 2000 when he headed Kansas City-based Vanguard Airlines. Potter returned to Frontier the following year, and Vanguard eventually shut down in July 2002.
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