Frontier Airlines Flight 299, the first of the airline’s new nonstop service between Denver and Grand Junction, touched down at 3:33 p.m. on Wednesday at Grand Junction Regional Airport.

One of the passengers, Gov. Jared Polis, said the flight went great.

Speaking after he stepped off the plane sporting a Frontier Airlines mask, Polis touted the interconnectivity within Colorado the new service will add for Colorado residents, and the ability to connect to other destinations affordably. He also highlighted Frontier’s low fares.

The new service will make Mesa County a more attractive destination for companies by making it easier for people to fly in and out of town, Polis said.

“It’s absolutely critical for Western Colorado’s economic competitiveness,” he said.

After his remarks, Polis said he wasn’t concerned about flying, despite Mesa County’s relatively high COVID-19 rates, as he has been vaccinated, and he noted that air travel has proven relatively safe, and Frontier is one of the airlines that does temperature screenings prior to the flight.

Grand Junction Regional Airport Executive Director Angela Padalecki said there has been a huge increase in demand for leisure travel after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Daniel Shurz, Frontier Airlines senior vice president, commercial, said leisure travel is what attracted the company to Grand Junction in the first place.

Outdoor destinations did very well during the pandemic, Schurz said, and Frontier flies to similar outdoor destinations in other states.

With flights to Grand Junction starting Tuesday and flights between Denver and Durango starting last week, Frontier is trying to pursue more opportunities in Western Colorado.

Polis echoed that sentiment.

“I think we’ll see it (the flight) really open up opportunities for tourism,” Polis said.

The addition of Frontier makes the Grand Junction airport the smallest in the country with six different carriers, Padalecki said, as well as the smallest with three ultra low cost carriers.

“That’s huge for us,” Padalecki said.

Grand Junction is now served by Frontier, United Airlines, Allegiant Airlines, American Airlines, Avelo Airlines and Delta Airlines.

This summer, the airport has 18 flights per day, Padalecki said, which will make it the airport’s biggest summer ever. The second biggest was the summer 0f 2019 with 14 per day, she said.

The Frontier flights will run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Shurz said if demand is strong, Frontier will add flights.

Tuesday’s flight had about 65 passengers each way, but the planes have 186 seats total, Padalecki said.

Shurz said he noticed other airlines that serve the same routes have changed their prices on the same days that Frontier flies. He said Frontier will keep its fees low all the time, regardless of what other airlines do.

“What we’re going to bring to this community is much lower fares,” Shurz said. “No longer is it going to be a luxury to fly 40 minutes to Denver.”

“To the community, it’s options,” Padalecki said of the competition between airlines.

The Grand Junction-Denver Frontier flight has a special introductory rate of $39 for certain dates booked through June 14, with blackout dates, according to a Frontier Airlines press release.

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