ONTARIO, Calif. - It's a rare sight at Ontario International Airport: a new airline pulling up to the terminal. Frontier Airlines was greeted by water cannons.
"First new airline we've added in several years and it's also the largest single expansion of new service at this airport in over a decade," said Mark Thorp, CEO of the Ontario International Airport Authority.
Frontier Airlines will offer flights from Ontario to three destinations: San Antonio, Austin and Denver. Passengers said they didn't know this was the first flight, but were attracted by the low fares which were less than $100 round trip.
"We did notice the balloons, but we didn't really know why. It was a good deal and we live 40 minutes south of here so we have options when it comes to airports. It's a good deal. We're going direct to Austin," said Devin Beliveau, who hadn't flown out of Ontario.
Kristen Shear and her friends are headed to the Austin City Limits music festival. She lives 20 minutes from the airport.
"It's a really underrated airport. My friends have actually never flown from here, my friends that I'm coming with. And I said, we should fly through Ontario. It's cheaper than LAX. It's smaller. We're going to get through security faster and it's just a really great airport," said Shear.
Ontario International Airport currently serves 4.5 million passengers a year, but the city has much bigger goals. They're planning on growing to an airport that serves 30 million passengers with flights not just throughout the U.S., but to Europe and Asia.
"Frontier brings that low-cost connection to a lot of international flights. It also attracts a lot of demand to this airport. What we really want to do at this airport is give passengers in Southern California an alternate to more crowded and congested airports. Not just the airports themselves, but the freeways to get to those airports," said Thorp.
Ontario offered flights to Denver, but never to San Antonio or Austin before today. Next year, the airline plans to add another destination: Chicago.