The Airbus A319 has reached the end of the line at Frontier Airlines. On Wednesday, the airline officially retired its last Airbus A319 with a special send-off from Nashville. The end of Airbus A319 operations comes as Frontier focuses on the Airbus A320neo family of aircraft that offers improved fuel efficiencies and better economics.
Frontier Airlines retires its final Airbus A319
Frontier flight 391 from Nashville International Airport (BNA) to Denver International Airport (DEN) was a special one. This was the final flight ever of an Airbus A319 in Frontier’s fleet. According to data from RadarBox.com, the flight on Wednesday took two hours and 22 minutes.
Daniel Shurz, senior vice president of commercial at Frontier Airlines, stated the following:
“The retirement of Frontier’s last Airbus A319 aircraft is a proud and symbolic moment for our team as we look ahead towards a greener future. Our ultra-modern fleet is already the most fuel-efficient in the U.S. skies and, as we continue the transition to A320neo (New Engine Option) and A321neo aircraft, our fuel savings and operational efficiencies continue to evolve.”
Passengers on the final flight were made aware of the special occasion via an onboard announcement. There were also giveaway items, including a frameable certificate commemorating the occasion. Denver-based Frontier crew members were also invited to greet the aircraft on arrival at a gate celebration in Denver.
The final Airbus A319 in Frontier’s fleet bore the registration N949FR. It was originally delivered to the airline in 2006, making it 15 years old. Frontier’s aircraft are known for featuring animals on the tail. This aircraft featured Erma the Ermine.
Moving to the A320neo
The Airbus A320neo family of aircraft is powering Frontier’s push toward a greener airline. Part of that strategy has included Airbus A319 retirements. In March, Frontier revealed it would retire all A319s by the end of 2021. By May, the airline accelerated that plan to retire all A319s by the third quarter, and that day has finally come.
The Airbus A319s were the smallest aircraft in Frontier’s fleet in 2021. The jets had room for 150 passengers. Now, the airline is moving to the Airbus A320neo family of jets, which seat 180 passengers at the lower end in Frontier’s fleet. At the upper end are the Airbus A321s.
With this upgauging, Frontier Airlines is not worried about having too large aircraft for its markets. On the airline’s first-quarter earnings call, Mr. Shurz was asked about the carrier’s retirement of the A319s and whether it would limit its ability to fly to smaller destinations. He stated the following:
“As we go to a lot higher gauge, we get lower costs, and we already have a strategy of applying the right frequency to the right market… We fly our smaller markets, in general, today on the A320neo which is the bulk of our fleet today – the majority of our fleet today, and we found that works. We fly some small markets at low frequency on the A321 and find that works. We have the lowest cost, we are going to be a low cost leader, and that enables us to fly as many markets as we can, and I think that’s the right strategy to maximize our opportunity.”
Frontier Airlines has no plans to fly the next generation of the A319, the A319neo. The carrier has instead placed its bets on the A320neo, A321neo, and the A321XLR. With these higher-gauge aircraft, Frontier gets lower unit costs, which can make them incredibly economical. Plus, given the carrier’s dense layout, the A321XLR will enable the airline to bring its services to more destinations.
Not the smallest Airbus jet ever in Frontier’s fleet
Before the Airbus A319, Frontier’s smallest aircraft was the Airbus A318. The smallest variant of the A320ceo family, these aircraft did not garner huge orders, but Frontier Airlines flew 11 of the type, according to data from ch-aviation.com.
The aircraft was officially retired from Frontier’s fleet in 2013. The carrier took its first A318 in 2003, but deliveries continued until 2007. Since then, A318s have become harder to find in the sky. Now, Frontier Airlines has put its name down as the next airline retiring smaller aircraft in favor of up-gauging the network and leveraging lower-cost, newer, fuel-efficient aircraft to support its low fares.
Are you sad to see Frontier’s Airbus A319s head to retirement? Let us know in the comments!