Interesting that you should remember that [the original Frontier]. The original Frontier Airlines (FL) did, indeed, serve Lexington, and they flew to Denver with a stop in St. Louis. What I remember most about that was that a large percentage of LEX passengers that would fly Frontier to St. Louis, then make interline connections at STL. For instance, I worked at First Security National Bank in 1983-84, and the Bank sent my boss to a seminar in Dallas. Commonwealth Travel, the agency used by First Security, routed her to STL on Frontier, then to DFW on Ozark. (For her return to LEX, she flew back on Delta via Atlanta.) Frontier's acquisition by PeoplExpress, followed shortly thereafter by Frontier's declaring bankruptcy and ceasing service, brought the end of FL's flights to Blue Grass Airport.
Thanks for the info!
Actually, I only very recently learned that FL served LEX (while looking at the Wikipedia page for FL). I then got more info from departedflights.com .
The only time I recall seeing an FL aircraft was at ATL during the early 1980s when I was maybe eight or nine. In the midst of the large wave of EA and DL planes, I thought the color scheme of that FL 732 really stood out in a nice way.
United started TYS-DEN around 2005-2006 with a daily CR7. It converted to ER4 after the merger with Continental. It now operates twice daily generally ER4 but occasionally will be CR7 or E175. It has never operated seasonally. F9 launched in 2011 prior to morphing into an ULCC. It was originally operated year round but after 2 years went seasonal. However it went back to year round last year with plans to do the same in 2020 albeit just twice weekly service in the winter. G4 just launched summer seasonal service this past summer on TYS-DEN. I do feel LEX could have similar service, and I am somewhat surprised UA has not jumped on DEN from there with their growth in DEN recently.
Thanks for the nice info. I (wrongly) thought UA briefly dropped TYS-DEN during the late 2000s. Although I have lived in Knoxville and used the airport, I grew up closer to CHA than TYS.
Knoxville has had a larger metro population than Lexington, but I'm also a little perplexed there is no LEX-DEN service at the moment.
I never knew the original Frontier served LEX. I have always figured that the possibility of LEX-DEN nonstop service is hampered by the significant level of service available on CVG-DEN. CVG has UA, DL, F9, WN and seasonal G4. I’m sure there are a good number of people making the short trip north to fly out of CVG.
In addition to nonstop service to DEN out of CVG, UA and WN both serve DEN nonstop from SDF, and F9 also has less-than-daily seasonal nonstop service to DEN from SDF.
Besides competition from CVG and SDF, another factor may be the aircraft type. For UA, a 50 passenger jet like a UA Express EM4 could be likely to start any daily LEX-DEN service. But EM4s and (relatively unpopular) CR2s are out of production; current examples aren't exactly getting any younger. New design successors to the likes of EM4s don't seem to be a high priority. So without good future growth, even a single daily 70 seater for DEN-LEX may be a bit much.
Without continued growth, even current UA EM4 routes may need to be cut/get reduced frequency if EM4s/CR2s can only be replaced by larger planes.