Starting May 1, Frontier Airlines, a low-fare carrier, will offer direct flights to Denver, Colo. from Burlington International Airport. United Airlines will also add a direct route to Denver starting on June 8.

The Denver connection caps the airport’s most successful year in the last decade. In 2018, the airport saw a 14 percent increase in passengers, the largest spike since 2003. Burlington also reported growth with 25,000 additional boardings, a 4 percent increase compared to the previous year.

Passengers will have access to Denver from Frontier Airlines three times a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday via the Airbus A320 aircraft. An introductory fare of $79 is available one-way on Wednesdays when purchased at by members of the Discount Den.

Burlington is one of five locations with new direct routes to the Mile High City via Frontier Airlines, joining Billings, Mont.; Green Bay, Wis.; Mobile, Ala.; and Boston.

United Airlines will start with Saturday flights, assess usage and determine demand.

“It’s a real opportunity for people who are traveling for business or pleasure,” said Gene Richards, director of aviation at BTV. “A lot of folks have children out there. A lot have migrated that way. You can go see your children for the weekend. You could fly out Friday and come back Monday and do it affordably. That’s really amazing.”

Frontier entered Burlington’s radar last September when it announced it would offer direct flights to Orlando on Wednesdays and Saturdays on the same Airbus A320 jet aircraft, a service that begins on Feb. 9. Frontier joins American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and JetBlue Airways in Burlington.

“We have strong relationships with all of the airlines here, which attributed to the growth this year, including adding new routes in 2018,” said Nic Longo, the airport’s deputy director of aviation. Longo said last year American added a Chicago flight, complementing United’s flight to Chicago, and Delta added a JFK flight, a counter to JetBlue.

Mountain to mountain

With access from the Green Mountains to the Rocky Mountains, and vice versa, this is also passholder paradise for skiers and riders with the Epic Pass, Vail Resorts’ season pass that offers access to 19 locations between the U.S., Canada, and Australia, including Stowe and Okemo mountains in Vermont as well as Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Beaver Creek, and Crested Butte in Colorado.

“With the growth of multi-area passes like Epic and IKON, which include Vermont ski areas and ski areas across the country, Frontier’s new direct service to Denver will make it easier and less expensive for these pass holders and other Vermont skiers and snowboarders to take a trip west,” said Molly Mahar, president of Ski Vermont/Vermont Ski Areas Association. “In terms of tourism, we see this as a positive because we expect some skiers and snowboarders from the Denver market, and especially those who have these multi-area passes, to travel east to try Vermont ski areas, as well.

“This opens Burlington and the region to not only the outdoor industry with Colorado and Vail ski resorts, but also the tech industry with connections to the west coast,” Longo said.

The airport reports that Burlington’s revenue bonds were upgraded in May 2018 by Moody’s Investors Service from Baa3 to Baa2 for a stable outlook. Another big credit rating agency, Fitch, also upgraded Burlington’s rating in the fall.

One route the airport continues to push for is Boston, which was popular to and from Burlington in the late 1990s.

“It’s probably been the most challenging to get the airlines interested in,” Richards, said. “All of our routes are as good as the people who are flying them.

“If people use them, they will continue. If they don’t, then they won’t.”

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