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LOW-FARE LINE SHOWS INTEREST IN FLIGHTS HERE

Frontier Airlines, a low-fare line serving the Western United States, wants to learn more about Buffalo after a sales pitch by NFTA representatives last week at company headquarters in Denver.

"It was a good meeting," Lawrence M. Meckler, Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority executive director, said Monday. "It was our first chance to see them eye to eye, and it appears they have an interest in the Buffalo Niagara (International) Airport."

In a related matter, Continental Airlines apparently has dumped the discount fare to Newark, N.J., that it initiated when Kiwi International Air Lines began low-fare service between Newark and Niagara Falls in May.

Continental had continued its so-called "Q" walk-up fare at $156 after Kiwi pulled out of the market a month ago. Within the last few days, however, that fare has risen to $316, according to NFTA officials.

USAirways has increased its walk-up fare to Newark -- from $198 to $240 -- since Kiwi pulled out, but even that price is half what the fare had been before the arrival of Kiwi, the NFTA said.

The NFTA expects Shuttle America to begin turboprop service between Buffalo and Trenton, N.J., and Hartford, Conn., in mid-November, with other Northeast cities to be added later. The low-fare carrier has hired local employees and is expected to offer several daily flights to each city.

Frontier Airlines officials, intrigued by data showing that Buffalo had 220,000 passengers last year who went to destinations served by the airline, have invited the NFTA back in January.

Jeff Potter, Frontier director of scheduling, described the presentation as "outstanding" and said the airline intends to expand its fleet from its current 14 Boeing 737s to 17 or 18 by next year.

"Somewhere down the stream we'd welcome the opportunity to explore service to the Buffalo Niagara Airport," he said.

Besides Denver, cities served by Frontier include Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Phoenix, Salt Lake City and El Paso.

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