Frontier Assessing Other La. Airport Sites

Frontier Airlines Inc. may begin hunting a new destination in Louisiana because the airport in hurricane-devastated New Orleans is closed indefinitely, its chief executive said Thursday.

The airline could fly to Baton Rouge, La., or a city in another state while it waits for a clearer picture of New Orleans' future, CEO Jeff Potter told shareholders.

"We are in the process of looking at other opportunities to use those aircraft," he said. "New Orleans is obviously going through a very challenging and difficult time. We'll just have to take a wait-and-see attitude."

On Thursday, Northwest Airlines Corp. became the first carrier to resume scheduled service to Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. Northwest is resuming two of its three daily flights between Gulfport and Memphis, Tenn. Service to New Orleans is suspended indefinitely.

Delta Air Lines Inc., the nation's No. 3 carrier, and discount airline AirTran Airways plan to resume commercial service to the Gulfport, Miss., airport.

Delta spokeswoman Chris Kelly said the resumption of commercial service to New Orleans will depend on when the airport is ready. AirTran did not say when it would resume service to the New Orleans airport, which has been used for humanitarian flights since the hurricane.

Frontier, which had one daily flight between New Orleans and Denver, has contributed to relief efforts by ferrying evacuees to Denver.

Potter said Frontier executives probably won't know the financial impact of the New Orleans service loss until they better understand how the short- and long-term market will look in the next six to 12 months. Denver-based Frontier serves 48 destinations in 29 states.

Atlanta-based Delta will resume commercial flights to the Gulfport airport on Sept. 20, Kelly said. Flights through its partner carrier Atlantic Southeast Airlines, which it sold to SkyWest Inc., resume Sunday.

AirTran Airways, a subsidiary of AirTran Holdings, Inc. of Orlando, Fla., said the carrier will resume commercial service from Atlanta to Gulfport on Tuesday.