Starting May 1, Frontier Airlines, a low-fare carrier, will offer direct flights to Denver from Burlingon. The Burlington International Airport also announced this week that United Airlines will add a direct route to Denver starting on June 8.
The Denver connection caps the airport’s most successful year in the last decade. In 2018, the airport saw a 14 percent increase in passengers, the largest spike since 2003.
Burlington also experienced a growth in enplanements, or boardings, with over 25,000 additional enplanements, a 4 percent increase compared to the previous year.
Passengers will have access to Denver from Frontier Airlines three times a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday via the Airbus A320 aircraft. Frontier Airlines has an introductory fare of $79 one-way on Wednesdays when purchased at FlyFrontier.com to members of Discount Den.
United Airlines will offer flights to Denver starting on Saturday, June 8 through the end of August. The airline will start with Saturdays, assess usage and determine demand.
“We are very excited about this flight.” Said Nic Longo, the airport’s deputy director of aviation, “We have strong relationships with all of the airlines here, which attributed to the growth this year, including adding new routes in 2018. American added a Chicago flight (complementing United’s flight to Chicago) and Delta added a JFK flight (complimenting JetBlue).”
Frontier Airlines entered Burlington’s radar last September when it announced it would offer direct flights to Orlando on Wednesdays and Saturdays on the same Airbus A320 jet aircraft. The service begins on Feb. 9. Longo said these connections will provide the airport with a strong start to 2019. Frontier Airlines joins American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and JetBlue Airways in Burlington.
As for Denver, Burlington was one of five locations with new direct routes to the Mile High City via Frontier Airlines. Billings, Mont.; Green Bay, Wis.; Mobile, Ala.; and Boston account for the others.
With access from the Green Mountains to the Rocky Mountains, and vice versa, this is also passholder paradise for skiers with the Epic Pass, Vail Resort’s season pass which offers skiers access to 19 locations between the U.S., Canada, and Australia—including Stowe and Okemo mountains in Vermont as well as Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Beaver Creek, and Crested Butte in Colorado.
“With the growth of multi-area passes like Epic and IKON, which include Vermont ski areas and ski areas across the country, Frontier’s new direct service to Denver will make it easier and less expensive for these pass holders and other Vermont skiers and snowboarders to take a trip west,” said Molly Mahar, president of the Ski Vermont/Vermont Ski Areas Association. ”In terms of tourism, we see this as a positive because we expect some skiers and snowboarders from the Denver market, and especially those who have these multi-area passes, to travel east to try Vermont ski areas, as well. We think it is beneficial when a new service increases opportunities both for Vermonters to travel less expensively and for visitors to get easier, less expensive access to Vermont.”
“This opens Burlington and the region to not only the outdoor industry with Colorado and Vail ski resorts, but also the tech industry with connections to the west coast,” Longo added in an email. “As you can imagine, we are quite excited to introduce Frontier to BTV, but now offering both MCO (Orlando) and DEN (Denver) to our destinations is fantastic.”
As far as financial management goes, the airport reports that Burlington’s revenue bonds were upgraded in May 2018 by Moody’s Investors Service from Baa3 to Baa2 for a stable outlook. Another big credit rating agency, Fitch, also upgraded Burlington’s rating in the fall.
“It’s a real opportunity for people who are traveling for business or pleasure,” Director of Aviation Gene Richards said. “A lot of folks have children out there. A lot have migrated that way. You can go see your children for the weekend. You could fly out Friday and come back Monday and do it affordably. That’s really amazing.”
Richards added that the relationship with Frontier Airlines has been positive and that they, “believe there’s going to be many more opportunities from this besides Denver and Orlando.”
“We do believe it will be based on demand,” he added. “All of our routes are as good as the people who are flying them. If people use them, they will continue. If they don’t, then they won’t.”
Richards confirmed that they are still pushing for a Boston route.
“It’s probably been the most challenging to get the airlines interested in,” he said. “At one time it was probably one of the most popular routes we had in Burlington.”
Burlington had a flight to Boston in the late 1990s, and the airport intends to keep pushing based on the demand.