By Hugo Martin, LA Times
Planning to expand to more warm-weather markets, Denver-based Frontier Airlines is going on a hiring spree with hopes of recruiting 800 flight attendants and 300 pilots by the end of next year.
Frontier is still one of the nation's smallest commercial carriers, with only 63 planes. But the airline's owner, Indigo Partners, wants to spread Frontier's new ultra-low-cost business model across the country, following the lead of Spirit Airlines, based in Miramar, Fla.
Spirit has reported one of the biggest profit margins of any airline in the country since Indigo bought a majority share of the airlines in 2006 and began charging fees for an assortment of services, including printing out a boarding pass. Indigo had been a majority shareholder in Spirit, but in 2013 sold its stake and took ownership of Frontier.
Despite the hefty profit margins, Spirit has reported the highest rate of complaints per passengers of any carrier in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. In the latest DOT report released in September, Frontier had the second-highest complaint rate, 3.54 complaints for every 100,000 fliers, compared with 6.46 for Spirit.
Frontier announced earlier this year that is planned to add 42 routes, including several warm-weather destinations such as Orlando, Fla., Houston and Phoenix.
The carrier also plans to expand its fleet to 120 planes by 2021, while retiring smaller aircraft, such as the Airbus 319, replacing them with larger Airbus 320s and Airbus 321s, Frontier spokesman Jim Faulkner said.
"The 319 only requires three flight attendants, while the 320 and 321 will need four and five flight attendants," he added.