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Frontier-Spirit Merger Could Mean More 'Niche Market' Opportunities

DENVER (CBS4) – On Monday, the two largest discount carriers in the United States, Frontier and Spirit Airlines, announced plans to merge. With that, the fifth-largest airline in the country is expected to form; the tie-up is valued at $6.6 billion when accounting for the assumption of debt and other liabilities.

Frontier airplane closeup
(credit: CBS)

What does the move mean for fliers and anticipated prices, specifically? CBS4's Mekialaya White checked in with an expert to find out.

Willis Orlando is the Senior Product Operations Specialist at Scott's Cheap Flights.

"We scour the internet all day long, and we are constantly searching for airfare from your home airport, whether it be Denver or Colorado Springs – to anywhere domestic or international that drops to a ridiculous extent. We're talking about $98 round trip between Denver and Miami. $195 between Denver and Honolulu."

Orlando says there are often assumptions with large mergers like this one.

"One of the things most folks think… is that it's bad news for prices. Less competition means higher prices in any sort of market."

However, according to Orlando, there is a caveat.

"Both Frontier and Spirit in recent years have been aggressive about expanding their route networks and competing not with each other, but with the legacy airlines. Their whole model is to offer this very cheap based-fare."

Frontier DIA wide shot
(credit: CBS)

Orlando believes the merger is also a positive for currently underserved flight locations.

"We could expect them to expand into more niche markets. So, if you're flying out of a small market, you may see one of these larger airlines enter and start flying to popular places. Those of us who are cheap flight aficionados, we love seeing these airlines gain strength and power."

In a press release shared by Frontier, the company says by 2026, Spirit and Frontier expect to add 10,000 direct jobs and thousands of additional jobs at the companies' business partners. Given the growth of the combined company, it is expected that all current team members will have an opportunity to be a part of the combined airline.

Denver International Airport also gave CBS4 the following statement regarding the merger:

The merger requires regulatory approval, and we will be closely monitoring the process to fully analyze the impact on DEN. Denver has proven to be one of the most resilient markets in terms of recovery from the pandemic and this position has been supported by competitive operating costs at DEN. We look forward to learning more details about the combined company in the coming weeks.

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