Frontier Airlines will soon offer seasonal service to Lafayette Regional Airport, airline officials announced Tuesday, with low-fare flights to Orlando, Florida, and Denver beginning Oct. 24 and continuing through the spring.
Flights starting at $39 one-way will be offered Wednesdays and Saturdays. Demand will determine whether the service is expanded.
"It depends on the demand from the city. We knew they were some of the top destinations from Lafayette that were not served,” Frontier spokesman Scott Fisher said.
“The fact I had to fly into Houston and drive here because it was the only economical option is probably the biggest reason that cities like Lafayette come up on our radar screen."
United Airlines' recent attempt to provide service between Lafayette and Denver was short lived. The service began in August 2014 and ended 11 months later as the airline bulked up its seat offerings between Lafayette and Houston.
That period of time coincided with the collapse in oil prices that devastated the Lafayette-area economy, a reality that showed up in a 15 percent decrease in enplanements from 2015 to 2016, according to federal data. The 2017 figure has not been released.
Yet Airport Director Steven Picou said Frontier initiated discussions with the airport, not the other way around, which he said is reason to believe the service expansion will endure.
"They studied the market and they approached us," Picou said. "The confidence level comes from them approaching us."
With Orlando and Denver, service from Lafayette is now available to five of the top seven U.S. destinations.
The airport, meanwhile, is in the early stages of building a 120,000-square-foot terminal that officials hope will attract still more service expansions. The $90 million terminal, combined with service expansions like the one announced Tuesday, can help sway more business activity to the region, said Anita Begnaud, senior vice president at One Acadiana.
“It’s just showing folks outside the market that we are looking at opportunities to make it easier to travel in and out,” Begnaud said. “If your community is a place where you lose a day traveling, that makes it a hard place for people to want to come.”
Tuesday's announcement comes during an expansion period for Frontier, which has 200 new airplanes on order, according to a news release. The airline announced a similar service expansion to Denver and Orlando from Huntsville, Alabama.
Frontier Airlines, which is based in Denver, serves almost 100 cities in the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean.
Dan Boudreaux contributed to this report.