Frontier Airlines to offer direct Vermont-Orlando flights

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Looking to get away to Florida this winter? Frontier Airlines will soon have some direct flights at discount prices. Officials hope the low-cost carrier and other expansion projects at the Burlington Airport could help Vermont's economy take off.

"We're trying to make it as easy as possible for people to get in the air," said Jonathan Freed with Frontier Airlines.

Which is why the carrier is becoming the sixth airline doing business at the Burlington International Airport. The no-frills airline specializes in low-cost, non-stop seasonal flights to vacation destinations. From Burlington, Frontier will offer direct flights to Orlando twice a week starting in February.

"We're really excited about the potential of this relationship," said Gene Richards, director of aviation at the Burlington International Airport. "So if we fill those planes we will get more service."

It's just one of the reasons the airport plans to break ground on a 104-room Marriott hotel in April that is scheduled to open next year. The airport has also invested around $13 million in renovations to improve taxiways and aprons.

"By 2020, that the infrastructure of this airport will be in shape and caught up, so when people come here it's the best possible experience and the safest," Richards said.

Burlington has been trying to grow air travel after seeing a 22 percent decline in the first seven years following the Great Recession. The last two years have shown positive growth. Business leaders hope Frontier will help continue that trend.

"More people coming to Vermont and staying here and spending money, and hopefully living here, and establishing a business, and really growing Vermont's economy," said Chris Carrigan with the Vermont Chamber of Commerce.

Carrigan hopes Frontier will attract more Canadian travelers in the way that competitor Spirit Airlines has drawn cross-border traffic to Plattsburgh.

Jinette Cain flies to Vermont a couple times a year to visit family from her home in Mexico City. She believes the new flights to Florida are good, but says Burlington should be looking at adding flights to other destinations. "There are a lot of people here that would go to Boston. I think that would be great," Cain said.

Richards says many in the community have asked about flights to cities like Boston and Denver. He says he hopes one day to make that a reality.