October will be the final frontier for an airline flight between Durango and Denver in 2013.
Frontier Airlines is switching to a seasonal service, not expected to return to Durango until late spring of 2014, said Catherine Rieb, Frontier’s marketing director in an email.
Customers who have booked beyond Oct. 28 will be offered a refund or else will be rebooked on Great Lakes Airways to Farmington or Cortez.
Rieb said the bookings did not justify year-round service, but added that Frontier will “continue to evaluate future opportunities.”
According to airport boarding data through June, Frontier’s boardings at Durango-La Plata County Airport are down 35 percent when compared with its bookings in 2010. Frontier served 14,023 passengers as of June 30 compared with 21,533 passengers for the same time period in 2010.
United Airlines will offer the only direct flight to Denver after October until Frontier resumes its service sometime in 2014.
Kip Turner, the aviation director for Durango-La Plata County Airport, said he “had begged and pleaded with Frontier” to stay but the airline already had made its decision earlier this year.
“It’s not something we’re pleased to see happen,” said Tom Greenhut, the chairman of the Durango-La Plata Airport Commission. “My personal feeling is that whatever the demand is, it will be met by others, perhaps by (other airlines) adding seats.”
Greenhut said he understood that Frontier needed to move its bigger aircraft to other markets for the winter.
Seasonal changes do not always have to be bad. They can sometimes work to Durango’s advantage, officials said.
American Airlines was once seasonal but has grown to full-time, Greenhut said.
For the summer season, American went to two flights a day.
Because the market tested so well, Turner understood that American was going to continue with two flights a day after a hiatus of a month or so in the fall to reallocate equipment. Then it will resume two flights a day before the winter.
“That’s a good story for us,” Turner said.