Lynx eats into United’s business |

Lynx eats into United’s business

ASPEN ” Frontier Airlines ate into United’s market share at the Aspen airport during the lucrative month of July, according to passenger numbers released Wednesday.

Frontier logged 6,152 passenger boardings on its new Lynx service in July, just its third month of operation at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport.

Passenger boardings on United Express flights slipped about 8 percent from 16,703 in July last year to 15,366 this year, according to statistics supplied by the airlines and compiled by the Aspen airport staff.

“Obviously United has lost market share to Frontier,” said Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen Snowmass, a central reservations agency, and the local business community’s liaison to the airlines.

United flights are handled by SkyWest and Mesa Airlines in the Aspen market. Through those affiliates, United Express had a 67.5 percent market share in July while Frontier held 27 percent of the market. Delta, via Sky West, had about 5.5 percent of the market.

Steve Snyder, a Frontier spokesman, said the carrier’s early performance in Aspen “definitely exceeded our expectations.”

Frontier announced Wednesday that it carried a record 1.07 million passengers last month on its main line service. It carried another 108,492 passengers during July 2008. The number of available seats filled, known as the load factor in the airline industry, was almost 72 percent for Lynx overall last month.

In Aspen, about 64 percent of the seats that Lynx offered were filled. Tomcich called that “impressive” considering it was only the third month of operations for the airline in Aspen. The load factor will likely improve as Lynx establishes itself in the market, he said.

Snyder wasn’t quite as impressed, noting that means 36 percent of seats were unfilled. “We’re happy with (the load factor) but we always want to improve,” he said.

United Express flights were about 68 percent full in July.

Tomcich said the best news he saw in the July passenger numbers was the overall growth in the market. Passenger boardings, known as enplanements in industry jargon, increased 17 percent in July. There were 22,726 boardings for the month this year compared to 19,401 last year.

There was no indication in June that Frontier stole market share from United Express. United had 10,757 enplanements in June ” about the same as June 2006. Comparisons to 2007 weren’t possible because the airport was closed part of the month for work on the runway.

Frontier had 4,292 passenger boardings in Aspen in June.

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