New Frontier Airlines crew base in Puerto Rico is “just the beginning”

“This is just the beginning”. With these words, the Chief Executive Officer of Frontier Airlines, barry biffleDescribed the opening of its first crew base in Puerto Rico, which will be located in Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport In green Island,

This summer, Frontier will hire approximately 90 pilots and 200 flight attendants to be based in Puerto Rico. And the interview process will begin next month, Biffle said. But the company’s plans go further than this.

“We are not going to open the base to just 290 crew members. We are opening it (base) to 500 (employees), 700 and will keep growing,” the executive said in an interview. new day,

Theoretically, when it begins operations in June this year, the thirteenth frontier crew base in the United States will see more than $80 million in annual salaries on the island, it was reported.

For Biffle, Puerto Rico represents an opportunity for growth in the Caribbean, an area that, he assured, is neglected.

“We are a growing airline and we are looking for places to grow that we believe are underserved, very expensive, or both,” he said. “We see it (the Caribbean) as an underserved area, and we believe San Juan is the place to serve this underserved area. “We are very excited about what this means for Frontier as well as Puerto Rico.”

In addition to entering underserved markets, Frontier Airlines is focusing on providing flights to destinations it operates from that are not traditionally served.

Currently, most flights available at San Juan, Ponce and Aguadilla airports connect passengers to destinations on the East Coast of the United States or those with a large concentration of Puerto Ricans.

“In the United States, we were over capacity in some leisure markets like Florida and Las Vegas. “What Frontier has done is we have expanded and, in a way, we have moved away from those places with excess supply,” he acknowledged.

“We’re very focused on the underserved opportunities that exist, and that’s why Puerto Rico is a big part of it, to make sure that we’re economically healthy, because we’re serving places where people Want new services,” said Biffle, who announced the expansion of the airline’s operations in a press conference with Governor Pedro Pierluisi this Wednesday.

Biffle also believed that the opening of the base would help increase passenger confidence in the airline, especially during times of flight delays or cancellations.

He assured that the base would make Frontier the “most punctual and reliable” airline, while allowing them to increase their presence on the island.

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Frontier has a presence in Puerto Rico’s three main airports, but its main operations are in San Juan, from where it operates 14 routes, primarily to mainland destinations, non-stop.

What is emerging in 2024

“This (base) allows us to fly more easily within the Caribbean region and, obviously, fly to destinations with more stops in the United States,” he said. “We will analyze both international and national opportunities.”

Thus, Frontier’s objective in Puerto Rico – and with it the contribution of airline numbers – is to take advantage of the island as a connecting axis, giving the U.S. territory a role similar to that of the 1990s, when American Airlines assumed the role of “hub. ” was conceived to serve the area through the defunct American Eagle Airlines.

new day He took advantage of the conversation with Biffle to ask him what the situation is shaping up to be for the aviation sector this year in particular aspects such as fuel costs.

“Finally, we are seeing fuel prices coming back to more normal levels. There’s still a way to go,” Biffle said, adding that the sector is beginning to see supply chain challenges begin to ease.

On the other hand, Biffle remained silent when El Nuevo Día asked about the judicial setback JetBlue experienced in its attempt to acquire Spirit Airlines operations.

“I have no comment on that,” Biffle said.

government assistance

Biffle highlighted the support of the Puerto Rico government for the opening of the base, indicating that the opening will be possible due to the approval of House Bill 1745, which creates legislation to facilitate and encourage the implementation of remote work in private companies . Establishment of an air operations base in Puerto Rico.

It was reported that this measure responds to the increase in remote employment opportunities following the COVID-19 pandemic, and will help make Puerto Rico attractive to companies that do not do business on the island, but which offer remote work positions. provide. Jurisdiction.

“We were able to work with the government to make this possible. And I think, by the way, the House, the Senate and the governor (Pedro Pierluisi) realized that this was an opportunity for Puerto Rico, the executive said.

Indeed, in written statements, Governor Pedro Pierluisi described House Bill 1745 as “consensus legislation to establish Puerto Rico as an attractive destination for investment and the creation of more and better jobs.”

For his part, Gabriel Maldonado, Secretary of the Department of Labor and Human Resources (DTRH), explained that the measure encourages the establishment of airline operating bases by “adjusting state labor law to operational realities and collective agreements, applicable federal laws. To negotiate duly under.” , which regulates the terms and conditions of employment of employees and flight crew.

In the first nine months of 2023, the low-cost airline reported operating income of about $2,698 million and net income of about $26 million, or about 12 cents per diluted share.

Joanisabel Gonzalez contributed to this story

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