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Frontier Airlines expanding in Cleveland with 'crew base,' bringing hundreds of jobs

Posted at 11:25 AM, Nov 08, 2023

Frontier Airlines announced Wednesday morning that a new crew base will be coming to Cleveland starting in March.

A crew base means the Cleveland Hopkins Airport will be a center of operations for Frontier crew members, as opposed to a hub, a central airport connecting passenger routes.

During its press conference, Frontier announced that the crew base is expected to bring in up to 110 pilots, 250 flight attendants, and 50 aircraft maintenance personnel within its first year of operation.

Combined with airport positions, the airline is expected to generate nearly $80 million annually in local wages, with further growth anticipated in the coming years, according to a news release from the airline.

"We're excited to partner with the Cleveland community as we continue to expand our operation at CLE and bring meaningful economic impact to the area through new jobs," said Barry Biffle, CEO of Frontier Airlines. "A crew base also positively impacts customers as it helps to support smooth flight operations. Our new crew base reflects our commitment to continued growth at CLE as we bring even more of our 'Low Fares Done Right' to area residents."

As airlines have been slammed in recent years, Frontier Airlines has been criticized at times for how it handles schedules. In 2022, the airline was ranked 8 out of 10 for on-time performance ratings. Biffle said all past issues flying in or out of Cleveland Hopkins shouldn't happen anymore.

"I think the experience is going to be even better by having a base because you're not as prone to weather and air traffic control delays like we have been in the past, so this will make us that more reliable," Biffle added.

Some flyers News 5 spoke to on Wednesday said they are looking forward to more nonstop flight options.

"I think the 40-pound weight for luggage is complicated, but the flight was on time, cheap, and easy," said Kevin Larie.

But some are not. Dr. Greg Smith said Frontier's fine print check-in policy caused him and his wife to miss their flight to Orlando.

"No, I am not going to fly Frontier again," said Smith. "From now on, I'll check my options and see all the fine print and all the details on different airlines; for a few hundred dollars more would have been worth it."

No matter what flyers think, The Greater Cleveland Partnership said the economic impact goes beyond new jobs.

"So, it is that two-way traffic," said Baiju Shah, CEO of Greater Cleveland Partnership. "Not only the spending that occurs from the visitors in our region but the business that it generates."

Frontier currently has 17 nonstop routes out of Cleveland. Biffle says new flight destinations will be announced in the New Year, but more direct flights to current routes will begin ahead of spring travel in March 2024.

"The City of Cleveland and the entire region will benefit from this announcement and the many layers of value that come with a new crew base," said Cleveland Mayor Justin M. Bibb. "We are grateful for the confidence Frontier has in the Cleveland market and for the economic boost that will follow from this investment."

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