Frontier Airlines to return to Midway Airport this spring

Frontier Airlines is expanding its footprint in Chicago as it becomes the latest airline to operate out of both city airports.

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Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Jamie Rhee talks about Frontier returning to Midway Airport.

Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Jamie Rhee talks about Frontier returning to Midway Airport.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

A new discount airline will soon be taking off from Midway Airport.

Frontier Airlines announced Tuesday it’s expanding its footprint in Chicago as it becomes the latest airline to operate out of both of the city’s primary airports. The low-fare carrier will soon return to Midway Airport, the city’s second-largest airport, after a seven-year hiatus.

Starting April 28, Frontier will offer nonstop flights out of Midway to eight destinations, including Denver, Dallas, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Tampa and Atlanta, with fares starting as low as $29.

Frontier also plans to offer two additional destinations, to Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale, beginning in mid-October.

At a news conference on the upper level of Midway, Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Jamie Rhee said the return of Frontier “gives additional affordable travel options to Chicagoans, especially here on the South Side.”

“It also expands the gateway for everyone hoping to experience the diverse tourist attractions of the Windy City,” she said.

The airline previously served the South Side airport but pulled out in April 2015 as part of its consolidation efforts.

Frontier has been operating out of O’Hare Airport for years, with flights to Mexico, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Orlando.

Coming back to Midway this spring was an “obvious solution” for Frontier as it looks to its future, according to Jose Flyr, the airline’s vice president of network and revenue. Frontier is looking to add 200 planes to its fleet in the coming years.

With the addition of Frontier, a total of six airlines now operate out of Midway, which has long been a hub for Dallas-based Southwest Airlines.

Southwest, which served customers exclusively at Midway for more than 30 years, launched service at O’Hare last February.

The pandemic is still having a profound impact on the aviation industry. Earlier this month, thousands of flights were canceled as the highly transmissible COVID-19 Omicron variant hampered airline staffing and crews.

Still, Rhee believes Chicago’s two airports are “well positioned to rebound and grow activity.”

The Midway Modernization Program included construction of an 80,000-square-foot security pavilion and expanded pedestrian bridge completed in 2020. That project doubled throughput from 2,500 people an hour to 5,000, Rhee said. She also praised the improved customer experience at Midway, noting new concessions.

As Midway continues to make improvements, Frontier’s return is an encouraging sign for the future, Rhee said.

“It’s a huge boost of confidence, and it just shows how incredible and dynamic this market is both at O’Hare and Midway,” she said. “We’re going to continue to try to provide as many services as we can both through ... connected flights or direct flights with both O’Hare and Midway.”

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