Low-fare carrier Frontier Airlines’ first aircraft featuring its new lighter-weight seats, a move that will result in significant fuel savings, debuted today with the launch of a new Airbus A320neo. The aircraft also features Francie, the Piping Plover, an endangered species, on its tail. Following installation of the seats, the aircraft took its first commercial flight from Orlando International Airport to Newark Liberty International Airport this morning.
In yet another action to reduce Frontier’s environmental footprint, the seat design features a 30 percent weight reduction over existing seats, the latest measure in a variety of innovative fuel savings initiatives from America’s Greenest Airline.
“This new aircraft, which is the 105th in our fleet, represents a significant milestone in Frontier’s commitment to being America’s Greenest Airline,” said Barry Biffle, CEO of Frontier Airlines. “We are in continuous pursuit of leading-edge strategies to reduce our environmental footprint and, at the same time, reduce fuel costs, which enables us to pass savings on to consumers in the form of lower fares.” Biffle also noted that the new seats feature extra comfort, along with redesigned armrests and a larger tray table that provides added space for laptops, reading materials and other personal devices.
Like all Frontier aircraft, a special animal is featured on the plane’s tail. Francie, the Piping Plover, is named for Dr. Francie Cuthbert of the University of Minnesota, who leads the Great Lakes Piping Plover Research Team. The Piping Plover was close to extinction in the mid-1980s when the species was placed on the endangered list. The work of Dr. Cuthbert and others is helping to restore the species’ population. Frontier currently features 34 endangered animals on its plane tails, which can be viewed here.
“The Piping Plover is a symbol of the magnificent Great Lakes ecosystem, which is both rare and fragile,” said Dr. Cuthbert. “Restoring plover numbers will ensure this species and the spectacular coastal beaches that are their habitat remain for future generations.
“Having a namesake Piping Plover on this new aircraft is an incredible honor and not only recognizes my efforts over a long career but all the people who have been part of the North American team protecting Piping Plovers. I applaud Frontier’s efforts to highlight endangered species by featuring them on their plane tails,” Cuthbert added.
The new seats will be featured on 155 aircraft currently on order, in addition to the one that debuted this week. The seats are part of a major deal between Recaro Aircraft Seating, part of Germany’s world-renowned seat design and manufacturing company Recaro Group, and Indigo Partners, which owns a portfolio of airlines, including Frontier. Recaro has a global reputation for high quality, exceptional seat design.
On an average Airbus A321 aircraft, the fuel savings provided by the new seat design equates to 31,683 gallons per year. Based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency equivalency calculators, the fuel savings across the 156 aircraft over the course of a year is equal to the elimination of approximately 642 million plastic bottles, or more than 1.1 billion plastic bags, or more than 15 billion plastic straws from the environment.
Frontier has the largest A320neo fleet in the U.S. The use of these aircraft, Frontier’s seating configuration, weight-saving tactics and baggage process have all contributed to the airline’s average of 43 percent fuel savings compared to other U.S. airlines (fuel savings is based on Frontier Airlines’ 2019 fuel consumption per seat-mile compared to the weighted average of major U.S. airlines), which makes Frontier the most fuel-efficient U.S. airline.
The Recaro order encompasses approximately 32,600 seats in total installed on Frontier aircraft with full implementation expected by mid-2027.