Business

Frontier's Daniel Shurz on Southwest's AirTran acquisition and how key Denver is to his airline

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Indeed, Southwest hasn't written off Denver even after failing to purchase Frontier last year in a contest eventually won by Republic Airways Holdings. The airline's been running a campaign using the slogan "Southwest Loves Denver" to supplement its main national message, "Bags Fly Free."

The latter catch-phrase is "very simple," Shurz says -- and this straightforwardness stands in contrast to Frontier's pitch, which he sees as "more nuanced.

"In our case, our cheapest fare gets you an assigned seat -- and there are clearly customers out there who don't find Southwest's boarding process to be the most fun thing in the world. And if other things are meaningful to you, we give customers the option to buy them," including STRETCH seating, which provides more legroom than in most standard passenger sections.

Even so, Shurz maintains, "we essentially have the lowest prices in the market. We have a lower cost of operation than Southwest, and over time, we will have net lower fares. Today, I'd say most of the time, we're equal on the lowest fares, so if you want cheap travel, we're very competitive. You can great great value from Frontier -- better value, I would argue, than you can get from Southwest a lot of the time."

Getting local travelers to grasp this information hasn't been as easy as it was back in the days when United was Frontier's primary target, Shurz concedes.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts