Air Transport World

A whole different animal.(PROFILE)(Frontier Airlines Inc.)

BADGERS AND RAZORBACK HOGS didn't make the cut. Grizwald the bear, a clever fox, a wisecracking jackrabbit and a quartet of penguins are in, along with a snowy white owl named Doc who is acceptable everywhere but in Mexico where he raises superstitions. These decisions are all part of the business strategy of Frontier Airlines, which markets itself as "A Whole Different Animal" and reflects that sentiment by having every aircraft tail painted with a creature indigenous to the regions served.

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The distinctive insignia are part of a plan to differentiate the 13-year-old carrier from the rest of the pack, generate public interest and garner brand loyalty that is critically important now that Southwest Airlines has joined United Airlines and UA's low-fare alter ego Ted as competitive nemeses at its Denver International Airport hub.

"In Denver, we don't want to be United and we don't want to be Southwest," Frontier President and CEO Jeff Potter tells ATW. "So we've undertaken a process [of] creating a value proposition that is not met by any other carrier. We've come up with some creative ways. The animal campaign is one of those things."

The airline, which bills itself as a low-cost carrier, is not by any means no-frills. Although it operates a single-class product across a fleet of 57 A318s, A319s and A320s, it offers a generous 33-in. seat pitch, with JetBlue's DirecTV product and pay-per-view movies available at every seat. There are an assortment of complimentary snacks and beverages including premier brand Caribou Coffee. Cost to watch TV is $5 and movies are $8 (there is a free channel as well). In contrast to Southwest but in line with JetBlue and AirTran, seats are assigned. Recently, purchases switched from cash to credit-only, with each flight attendant carrying a handheld card reader. This is expected to speed up inflight service and could tempt travelers to open their wallets a bit more.

Frontier, which saw its mainline enplanements jump 19.6% to 6.9 million in the first nine months of the current fiscal year, operates 350 daily departures to 57 destinations in the US, Mexico and Canada in a mostly hub-and-spoke network out of Denver. …

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