Frontier Airlines will add permanent nonstop flights from Eppley Airfield to Los Angeles and San Diego and will resume seasonal nonstop service to Florida beginning early next year.
Omaha hasn't had regular nonstop service to the Los Angeles area since 2001. Airport officials said restoration of the flights was important for both business and leisure travelers.
And Midlands residents seeking a respite from winter next year will be able to reach sunny Florida even faster.
“We consider this very significant,” Steve Coufal, executive director of the Omaha Airport Authority, said of the new flights. “There's been strong business and leisure interest in West Coast service, especially Los Angeles.”
The additions will bring to 20 the number of nonstop flights leaving from Eppley.
Midwest Express offered nonstop flights to the Los Angeles area for a short time in 2007. The following year, ExpressJet, which now operates strictly as a regional carrier for other airlines, offered nonstop flights for about seven months.
Yet Los Angeles is Eppley's fifth most popular destination for leisure and business travel, and it tops the list of most-requested routes, Coufal said.
San Diego is the 13th most popular destination of Eppley travelers. Orlando and St. Petersburg-Tampa are the ninth and 17th most popular, respectively.
Chicago is the top destination of the 25 cities on Eppley's list, Coufal said.
Daniel Shurz, vice president of planning and strategy for Frontier, said nonstop seasonal flights to Florida last winter did well and prompted the company to look at other opportunities.
Frontier, which currently operates seven nonstop flights from Omaha, will use one 99-seat Embraer 190 on the new routes. It has a full-size cabin with two-seat rows on each side of the center aisle.
“We don't view this size as a regional jet,” Shurz said. “It delivers the same onboard product as our other planes, except live TV.”
Shurz said using one aircraft and offering flights only a few days a week allow the low-cost airline to offer more destinations to travelers.
He said post-recession demand is up and revenue is recovering at Frontier, a subsidiary of Republic Airways Holdings.
“We're generally seeing what the industry is seeing,” he said. “The industry is being careful about adding back capacity.”
Shurz said the Omaha market was less affected overall by the recession, a point often noted by regional and national experts.
“That stability is why we're interested in expanding the market,” he said. “It's a good time to start growing.”
Tickets on the Los Angeles, San Diego and Orlando flights will be available for purchase beginning at 8 a.m. Thursday on Frontier's website — www.FrontierAirlines.com/introfares — and from other distribution sources this weekend, Shurz said.
Tickets to St. Petersburg will be available for purchase beginning Sunday.
Frontier is offering a special introductory price of $89 one-way to the four destinations for purchases made in September.
Chris Martin, director of operations at Eppley, said this will be the first time an airline there has offered service to St. Petersburg.
“This is very exciting,” Martin said. “The airport is close to Tampa and serves the beach areas, but it's a small airport that is easy to get in and out of.”
Service to San Diego International Airport begins Jan. 16. Flights to Los Angeles International Airport start Feb. 14. Flights start Jan. 15 to Orlando International Airport and on Jan. 16 to St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport.
ŸThe Omaha-to-Los Angeles flight departs at 3:35 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, arriving at 4:55 p.m. Pacific time. The Los Angeles-to-Omaha leg departs at 5:30 p.m. PT, arriving back in Omaha at 10:30 p.m.
ŸThe Omaha-to-San Diego flight departs at 3:35 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, arriving at 4:50 p.m. The San Diego-to-Omaha leg departs at 5:20 p.m., arriving in Omaha at 10:15 p.m. Beginning Feb. 14, flights to San Diego will be on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, at the same times.
ŸThe Omaha-to-Orlando flight departs at 8:25 a.m. Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, arriving at 12:25 p.m. Eastern time. The Orlando-to-Omaha leg departs at 12:55 p.m. ET, arriving in Omaha at 3 p.m. This schedule remains in effect from Jan. 15 through Feb. 13. From Feb. 14 through April 16, flights will be at the same times on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
ŸThe Omaha-to-St. Petersburg flight departs from Jan. 16 through April 17 at 8:25 a.m. on Wednesday and Sunday, arriving at 12:25 p.m. The St. Petersburg-to-Omaha leg departs at 12:55 p.m., arriving in Omaha at 3 p.m.
Contact the writer: