Frontier hopes to start new regional operation by year-end | AspenTimes.com

Frontier hopes to start new regional operation by year-end

Sandy Shore
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” After putting to bed its best quarterly performance report in six years, Frontier Airlines Holdings Inc. is hoping to launch its long-awaited turboprop operation in December and add new services such as in-flight e-mail by next year.

Representatives of Lynx Aviation, the new turboprop subsidiary, plan to meet Monday with Federal Aviation Administration officials to discuss operating specifications with the goal of getting their approval and starting service by the end of the year.

Although Frontier hasn’t announced the destinations it intends to serve with the new service, Aspen is widely expected to be one of them.

Pilots, flight attendants, dispatchers and mechanics already are being trained on the Bombardier Inc. aircraft, Lynx President Tom Nunn told analysts Friday during a conference call on the company’s fiscal second-quarter results.

Frontier Chief Executive Officer Sean Menke, who took over last month, said he is looking at a number of areas for possible improvements, including the addition of e-mail and text messaging services for passengers if bandwidth issues can be resolved.

Menke discussed the new operation with analysts a day after the company said the fiscal second-quarter was its best performance since before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, crediting a record number of passengers and a drop in fuel expenses.

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For the fiscal 2008 second quarter, Frontier reported net income of $17.3 million, or 39 cents a share, compared with net income of $500,000, or 1 cent a share, in the second quarter of 2007.

Revenue totaled $373 million in the quarter ending Sept. 30 compared with $312.5 million in the year-ago quarter.

The most recent quarter included special items that, combined, decreased net income by 6 cents a share. They included $2.8 million in startup costs for Lynx Aviation and accelerated depreciation totaling $1.5 million for a seat replacement project.

In the previous quarter, special items, net of income taxes and bonuses, lowered net income by 6 cents a share. They included gains on the sale of Boeing assets and Lynx startup costs.

The carrier, which serves cities in 32 states, Mexico and Canada from its Denver International Airport hub, had hoped to start Lynx Aviation in October but that was delayed pending FAA approval.

Frontier began flying three Lynx routes ” to Wichita, Kan., Rapid City, S.D., and Sioux City, Iowa ” in October with aircraft from its regional partners and hopes to ramp up the operation quickly once the certification process is complete.

Frontier’s stock rose 19 cents to close at $6.94 a share Friday.

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