Frontier Airlines is ending service between Bismarck and Denver in about a month.
The city announced the airline’s decision in a late-Friday statement, saying Frontier cited “a shift in network strategy due to crew/operational constraints” as the reason. The last flight will be Nov. 3.
Airport Director Greg Haug said Frontier’s move “is unfortunate for Bismarck and the region.”
“This is an extremely challenging time for the airline industry as they adjust their operations to accommodate labor shortages and rising costs,” he said.
Frontier did not immediately respond to a Tribune request for comment Saturday. Frontier Group Holdings Inc., the parent company of Frontier, in July reported a profitable second quarter, with a 43% increase in revenue from the second quarter of 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic. The company said it expected record revenue in the third quarter.
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Airlines have struggled to rebound from pandemic disruptions and staffing shortages. North Dakota Aeronautics Commission Executive Director Kyle Wanner said last month that airlines haven’t been able to add flights or seats in North Dakota as the industry “continues to reprioritize the utilization of its fleet and works to improve its staffing issues.”
That has hampered passenger growth. Monthly airline boardings at North Dakota’s eight commercial service airports in July slipped below 2021 levels for the first time this year.
Boardings were down 18.8% from July 2019, before the onset of the pandemic in early 2020. Bismarck’s drop was less than half a percent, however.
The Bismarck Airport still will have flights to Denver through United Airlines. Delta, American and Allegiant also serve the capital city.
“We are optimistic that Bismarck’s market will continue to offer air service that meets the needs of the community and surrounding region,” Haug said.