The Battle for Atlanta
Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport is the world’s busiest airport with over 94,000,000 passengers passing through it in 2013. While Delta is by far the biggest airline, others are starting to see opportunity there.
Southwest has the second largest presence at the airport and Spirit announced last week that they are launching 9 new routes to Atlanta. Now, a third player is making an expansion into Atlanta in a big way.
Today Frontier Airlines announced an expansion from 6 to 16 nonstop routes to/from Atlanta, with some of them overlapping Spirit’s routes announced last week. Many of the new routes are also to Delta hubs or focus cities.
As a recap, Spirit is launching the following routes:
- Atlanta to Cleveland, Las Vegas, and Orlando beginning May 7, 2015
- Atlanta to Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Tampa beginning June 18, 2015
- Atlanta to Los Angeles beginning August 20, 2015
- Atlanta to Boston and Fort Myers* beginning September 10, 2015
And here are Frontier’s new routes:
- Atlanta to Austin, Indianapolis & Miami on March 6, 2015
- Atlanta to Philadelphia on March 13, 2015
- Atlanta to Cincinnati, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York LaGuardia, New Orleans & Minneapolis on April 30.
In the end, both low cost carriers are initiating service from Atlanta to: Cleveland, Las Vegas, Orlando, Philadelphia & Los Angeles. I expect fares to be incredibly competitive on those routes.
In other markets where LCCs have entered, we have seen the legacies match sale fares. Ever since Spirit began flying from LAS-PHL for example, US Airways has sold fares at incredibly cheap rates to compete. Will Delta do the same?
To celebrate their new routes, Frontier is offering fares from Atlanta to their new destinations as low as $19. The sale dates are rather limited, so it is best to read the terms before spending too much time looking.
It is clear Frontier & Spirit, our country’s two largest low cost carriers, are going after Atlanta pretty hard. While I am surprised there is so much overlap with their new routes, I am confident it will drive prices down.
My guess is that Delta is ready for this fight and will match the prices of their low cost competitors, but only time will tell. I am just glad that it is going to get much cheaper for me to fly to Atlanta from Las Vegas!