New routes take flight at Grand Junction airport

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Angela Padalecki, executive director of the Grand Junction Regional Airport, introduces Daniel Shurz, center, senior vice president at Frontier Airlines, 
and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis during a celebration of the inaugural Frontier flight from Denver to Grand Junction. (Business Time photo by Phil Castle)

Angela Padalecki sees Grand Junction as not only a destination in its own right, but also the center of a region that includes national parks and a variety of outdoor recreation.

“We’re a destination surrounded by destinations,” said Padalecki, executive director of the Grand Junction Regional Airport.

And that’s just one of the attributes that’s helped attract additional commercial air service, she said.

Frontier Airlines launched the latest addition on June 8 with its inaugural flight from Denver International Airport to Grand Junction. The passengers aboard that flight included Daniel Shurz, a senior vice president at Frontier, and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis.

Shurz said thrice-weekly service offers an affordable option to travel to Denver and brings more tourists to Grand Junction and Western Colorado.

Polis said the new service and added connectivity makes Grand Junction that much more attractive to businesses, which in turn promotes economic development.

“It’s the start of something special and exciting for Mesa County,” he said.

Denver-based Frontier also announced new routes between Durango and Denver and Durango and Las Vegas. The airline also expects to offer service between Denver and Anchorage, Alaska, and Kalispell, Mont. The airline serves a total of about 100 destinations in the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The inaugural Frontier flight into Grand Junction followed by a month the start of service between Grand Junction and Southern California. Avelo Airlines, a new airline based in Burbank, offers that service four times a week.

Counting Frontier and Avelo, six airlines offer services at Grand Junction Regional Airport.

Padalecki said the airport is the smallest in the United States with six carriers — three of them low-cost carriers.

She attributed that distinction to a number of factors, including the proximity of national parks and other destinations as well as a rebound in leisure travel following the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said she’s hopeful for even more service, including a route to San Francisco.