A new Frontier for HIA

Denver-based airline returns to midstate

After a three-year hiatus, Frontier Airlines is coming back to Harrisburg International Airport this summer with non-stop flights to three cities.

Officials for the airport and the Denver-based carrier announced Wednesday that Frontier will be offering flights to and from Denver, as well as Orlando, Florida, and Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina.

The Colorado and North Carolina flights will start July 21 with Wednesday and Saturday services, while flights to Florida will begin August 13 and will run Mondays and Fridays. To celebrate the return to HIA, one-way fares will start as low as $29.

Frontier will become the seventh airline to call HIA home. The airline flew out of HIA from 2012 to 2015 before leaving as part of a post-bankruptcy ownership change and adoption of a strategy to focus on larger cities. 

Since then, Frontier has shifted from a low-cost airline to a so-called ultra-low-cost airline, meaning it offers rock-bottom fares.

Once a full-service carrier, Frontier has experienced significant growth over the last three years and has been rapidly moving into new and former markets. HIA, which is in Lower Swatara Township, is one of the markets where Frontier is making a comeback.

Jonathan Freed, a company spokesman, said Frontier considers itself a new airline that wants to be seen as an affordable family travel option. The company also sees growth potential from business travelers who want another low-cost choice.

The airline’s growth into smaller airports like HIA, he said, is being driven, in part, by the company’s recent order for 200 new Airbus planes. With the investment and route expansions, Freed said the airline will be able to reach 90 percent of the U.S. population.

“The sky is the limit,” he said, in terms of future flight volume at HIA, which Frontier is hoping will be a long-term hub.

For HIA, Frontier represents a new budget airline.

Allegiant Air is another. It also serves Florida. However, Allegiant flies into Orlando Sanford International Airport, while Frontier will fly into Orlando International Airport from HIA.

The Raleigh flights will be new for HIA. Currently, American Airlines flies from HIA into Charlotte, North Carolina, but mostly as a connection for travelers going to other destinations.

Timothy Edwards, executive director of the Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority, which operates HIA, hopes the new non-stop flights will entice midstate travelers who might otherwise head to airports in Baltimore and Philadelphia. 

HIA served about 1.2 million passengers last year, down from more than 1.2 million in 2016.

Edwards believes the new airline service also will help attract investments around the airport. “Air-service development is economic development,” he said.

HIA already is hosting new commercial development, including two hotels now under construction.

Freed said the hotel development was not a major consideration in Frontier’s decision to come back to HIA.

“We’re first and foremost looking for markets we believe can benefit from our ‘low fares done right,'” he said, using the company’s tagline.


Due to inaccurate information provided, this story has been updated to reflect the start of Frontier’s Orlando flights. Harrisburg flights to and from Orlando will run on Monday and Friday, not Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Jason Scott
Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin and Cumberland counties. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jscott@cpbj.com.

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