Frontier plans flights to Orlando, Denver from Ford Airport

Photo courtesy of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

**Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the cheapest flights from Orlando to Grand Rapids were more than $200. That was not accurate. One-way flights from Orlando to Grand Rapids can cost less than $40. We regret the error.

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — After a four-year hiatus, Frontier Airlines is coming back to Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

Starting Dec. 13, you can jet off to Orlando, Florida on Frontier for one-way ticket fares as low as $34.

The announcement of the airline’s return comes as the airport finishes the first phase of a $45 million renovation.

“They came back because they see an economy that is growing very rapidly,” The Right Place, Inc. President and CEO Birgit Klohs said.

The Right Place an economic growth engine for West Michigan.

Klohs, who sits on the airport’s board, says June was another record-setting month for the Ford Airport, with more than 5 percent growth in the number of passengers. That and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing that metro Grand Rapids has the fastest-growing economy in the nation, Klohs said, is enough to bring back Frontier, which previously flew out of Ford Airport between 2010 and 2013.

“We have a very robust business climate. We have a lot of companies that are growing and expanding here and an airlines look at demographics and who is using airlines,” she said. “Orlando happens to be the No. 1 market for Grand Rapids, so having more flights to Orlando is really good. But we also need additional connections to the west.”

That’s why in Frontier is expected to launch flights to Denver next spring, giving more options to travel agencies, like Breton Travel.

“It’s good news for the consumer, it’s good news for the area because another low-cost carrier will help to keep prices down and give people more choices and that’s always a good thing,” Breton Travel President John Lovell said.

Frontier joins two other low-cost airlines, Allegiant and Southwest, at Ford Airport. Lovell said that will help bring down fares overall. But he noted there are differences with Frontier versus others.

“With Frontier coming in, they not only have check bag fees, but they have carry-on bag fees,” Lovell said.

Lovell said a lot has changed in the travel industry.

“We spend a lot more time today on large, more complicated, international-type trips. 20 years ago, 66 percent of our business was airline tickets. Today it’s about 15,” he said. “We still do airline tickets for people and a lot of people will want us to do airline tickets because of the headaches that you can have with airline travel.”

The new flights to Orlando will depart from Ford Airport at 1:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, according to Frontier’s website.