HANOVER TWP., Pa. - A new airline will soon be landing at the Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE).
It was welcome news, just weeks after AirTran announced it was flying out of LVIA forever.
"Frontier Airlines is here today [Tuesday] to announce that we're going to be starting service here to Lehigh Valley Airport (ABE)," announced Greg Aretakis, vice president of revenue production for Frontier, which will add two non-stop flights per week to the Orlando International Airport (MCO).
The first new flight will take off May 26. Tickets start with an introductory one-way fare of $90, which includes taxes and fees. The fare will go up to $100 after March 14.
The flights will depart Orlando at 8:31 a.m. Tuesdays and Saturdays and return with an 11:40 a.m. departure from ABE.
"After doing our homework, we determined that the time is right to come in," said Aretakis.
Much of the decision, Aretakis said, had to do with the economy.
"As the economy grows, a business like ours wants to partner with the growing economy," said Aretakis.
Tony Iannelli, chairman of Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority, said Frontier's announcement is a swing in the positive direction for the airport.
"It's all about momentum, said Iannelli, who also serves as president and CEO of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce. "To start 2012 off, this is a great first step, so we're happy that they've stepped up. We're happy to have Frontier."
Some travelers, too, will be happy to have Frontier, which is essentially maintaining a direct flight to Orlando that would be lost when when AirTran pulls out this summer.
"On an annual basis, we have 100,000 people who travel from Lehigh Valley to Orlando from this airport," said Charles Everett, executive director of the airport authority. "So, it is our number one destination."
As of right now, no jobs will be added locally, Frontier said. As for what's on the frontier for the airline, all Aretakis would say is, "You'll have to stay tuned."
At noon Tuesday, Everett told his board he hopes Frontier will increase the number of flights between the Lehigh Valley and Orlando when AirTran ends its service in August. Frontier will be flying 138-seat Airbus 319 aircraft between the airports.
Earlier this month, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., urged Allegiant and Frontier airlines to take another look at the Lehigh Valley.
"I urged Frontier to bring service to the Lehigh Valley to support the regional economy and increase options for local travelers," Casey said. "This move is a win for the Lehigh Valley, and I welcome Frontier to its newest hub in Pennsylvania."
In January, AirTran announced it will leave LVIA in August as part of its purchase by Southwest Airlines.
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