Does Southwest Airlines own Frontier Airlines?

Air Travel

By Kristy Tolley

Southwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines

Southwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines are two major airlines in the United States. Both airlines primarily serve domestic destinations, with Southwest having a larger network and a more established brand. Despite similarities in their business models, the two airlines have different histories and ownership structures.

The History of Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines was founded in 1967 and started operations in 1971. The airline was initially focused on serving cities in Texas, but quickly expanded to other parts of the country. Southwest’s success was built on its low-cost model, which allowed it to offer affordable fares and frequent flights. Over the years, Southwest has grown to become the largest domestic airline in the United States, with a fleet of over 700 aircraft and a network that covers more than 100 destinations.

The History of Frontier Airlines

Frontier Airlines has a more complicated history. The airline was founded in 1950 and operated as a regional carrier for many years. In 1986, Frontier was acquired by People Express, which then merged with Continental Airlines. Frontier was spun off as a separate airline in 1994 and went through several ownership changes over the next decade. In 2009, Frontier filed for bankruptcy and was eventually acquired by Republic Airways Holdings. Under Republic’s ownership, Frontier underwent a major restructuring and shifted its focus to a low-cost model.

Southwest’s Acquisition of AirTran

In 2010, Southwest Airlines announced its intention to acquire AirTran Airways, another low-cost carrier. The acquisition was completed in 2011, and AirTran was integrated into Southwest’s operations. The move allowed Southwest to expand its network and enter new markets, particularly in the southeastern United States.

The Relationship Between Southwest and Frontier

Despite rumors and speculation, Southwest Airlines does not own Frontier Airlines. However, the two airlines have had a complicated relationship in recent years. In 2013, Southwest and Frontier announced a codeshare agreement, which allowed customers to book flights on both airlines through a single reservation. The partnership was short-lived, however, and was terminated in 2015. Since then, the two airlines have competed fiercely in markets where they overlap.

The Acquisition of Frontier by Indigo Partners

In 2013, Frontier Airlines was acquired by Indigo Partners, a private equity firm that specializes in the aviation industry. Under Indigo’s ownership, Frontier continued to focus on its low-cost model and expanded its network to new destinations. In 2017, Frontier launched an initial public offering (IPO) and became a publicly traded company.

Current Status of Frontier Airlines

As of 2021, Frontier Airlines operates a fleet of over 100 aircraft and serves more than 100 destinations in the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean. The airline has faced some challenges in recent years, including a labor dispute with its pilots and financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Like all airlines, Southwest and Frontier have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Both airlines have had to reduce their schedules and implement new health and safety measures to protect passengers and employees. Southwest has been more resilient than many of its competitors, thanks in part to its strong balance sheet and loyal customer base. Frontier, on the other hand, has struggled more and has had to make some difficult decisions, such as furloughing employees and reducing its fleet.

Southwest and Frontier’s Competitive Landscape

Southwest and Frontier operate in a highly competitive market, with several other low-cost carriers vying for customers. Some of the biggest competitors include JetBlue, Spirit Airlines, and Allegiant Air. Despite the competition, both Southwest and Frontier have managed to carve out a niche for themselves by focusing on affordability and customer service.

Future Plans for Southwest and Frontier

Looking ahead, both Southwest and Frontier have ambitious plans for growth. Southwest has announced its intention to expand its network to new destinations, including Hawaii and Canada. Frontier, meanwhile, has been adding new routes and increasing its capacity, with a goal of becoming the "ultra-low-cost" leader in the industry. It remains to be seen how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact these plans and whether either airline will pursue further acquisitions or partnerships.

Conclusion: Does Southwest Airlines Own Frontier Airlines?

In conclusion, Southwest Airlines does not own Frontier Airlines. While there have been rumors and speculation about a possible acquisition, the two airlines have maintained separate ownership structures. Despite this, Southwest and Frontier have had a complicated relationship in recent years, with both airlines competing fiercely in overlapping markets. As the aviation industry continues to evolve and adapt, it will be interesting to see how Southwest and Frontier fare and what the future holds for both airlines.

References and Further Reading

  • "Southwest Airlines." Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 21 Apr. 2021,
  • "Frontier Airlines." Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Apr. 2021,
  • "Southwest Airlines Completes Acquisition of AirTran Holdings, Inc." Southwest Airlines, 2 May 2011, .
  • "Frontier Airlines and Southwest Airlines Announce New Agreement." Frontier Airlines, 11 Apr. 2013, .
  • "Frontier Airlines Announces Pricing of Initial Public Offering." Frontier Airlines, 30 Mar. 2017, .
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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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