Non Stops

A Frontier Airlines jet arrives at Tulsa International Airport in June. The airline will suspend its seasonal nonstop service between Tulsa and San Diego next month but is adding flights to San Antonio in August. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World file

Budget carrier Frontier Airlines is adding a nonstop flight and dropping another one from Tulsa beginning in August, an airport spokeswoman said.

The last nonstop departure to San Diego from Tulsa International Airport (TUL) is Aug. 9, and the first nonstop to San Antonio, Texas, is scheduled for Aug. 12, Alexis Higgins said.

“When we announced these routes they were announced as seasonal, meaning they would operate the summer season and suspend in the fall,” Frontier Airlines spokesman Richard Oliver III said in an email of the handful of routes the airline recently suspended nationwide. “Frontier flies a very seasonal network that allows us to better match capacity with demand in the slower travel months.”

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Frontier returned to the Tulsa market in March 2017 with the launch of service to Denver (DEN) and later added Orlando, Florida (MCO); San Diego (SAN); San Jose, California (SJC); Washington, D.C. (IAD); and San Antonio (SAT).

Frontier recently scheduled through the end of the year flights to all of the aforementioned cities except San Diego, Higgins said.

Through Higgins, Tulsa International Airport CEO Mark VanLoh declined to comment on the loss of the San Diego flight. But he has stressed previously the importance of Tulsa’s expanding its reach to nonstop cities.

“Our focus continues to encourage Tulsa area travelers to use the air service that is available from TUL,” Higgins wrote in an email. “Customer demand drives service and our demand is up 8.4% YTD (year-to-date). The more our community chooses to fly from Tulsa International Airport, the easier it is for us to retain and recruit airline service.”

Joseph Abraham, who works in Tulsa for a Glendale, California-based firm that develops tests and assessments for companies, flies commercially about 15 times a year, mostly for business to cities such as Los Angeles and New York.

The need for Tulsa International Airport to increase its nonstop services cannot be understated, he said.

“It is just extra opportunities for things to go wrong,” Abraham said of flying on connecting flights. “It’s just a lot of wasted time.

“One good thing about being in Tulsa is that you’re not spending your entire life commuting. But at the same time, there’s a downside. You’ve added an extra two to three hours to every (airline) trip you take.”

He pointed out a number of coastal cities available nonstop through Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City that aren’t available in Tulsa, such as San Francisco (SFO), Seattle (SEA) and Philadelphia (PHA).

Today, 72 percent of flights booked by travelers in the Tulsa region originate at the Tulsa airport, according to data provided by VanLoh and the Tulsa Regional Chamber. This means that 1,360 people per day — the equivalent of 10 737 flights daily, or half a million passengers annually — are driving to airports as far away as Dallas to begin flying to their destinations.

“I’m a big booster of this city,” Abraham said. “I love this city. I say great things all the time.

“But who are we going to be 10 years down the road? Are we going to be Cleveland? Are we going to be a city where we’re making things and the people who have the real high-paying jobs are two hours down the road? It sure looks like that way to me.”

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Rhett Morgan


Twitter: @RhettMorganTW