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Frontier Cancels Flights Because Of Hail Damage To Planes

Frontier Planes Damaged

BY COLLEEN SLEVIN   07/15/11 05:42 PM ET   AP

DENVER — Dozens more flights had to be canceled at Denver International Airport Friday as airlines continued to deal with the fallout from a hail storm.

Frontier Airlines was the hardest hit by Wednesday's storm, with nearly a third of its 59 large planes in the shop. It canceled more than 60 flights through Saturday and was working to try to move passengers to other airlines with available seats and get more aircraft from its parent company, Republic Airways.

Denver's largest carrier, United Airlines, canceled 39 flights Friday, a day after it canceled about 90 flights because of hail damage. Twelve United planes – out of its fleet of 710 – were out of service as they were inspected for damage, but spokesman Mike Trevino didn't know the extent of the damage.

Another top operator at Denver's airport, Southwest Airlines, said three of its planes were damaged by hail, but, with 550 planes in its fleet, it didn't have to delay or cancel flights.

Five of Frontier's damaged Airbus planes could be returned to service over the weekend. Thirteen others have been flown – without passengers – to maintenance sites across the country for repairs that are expected to take longer. Two other smaller, turbo-prop planes were also damaged.

"When you consider that we have only 59 Airbus aircraft, having this much of the fleet out of service is a significant challenge," Republic CEO Bryan Bedford said in a message to staff Thursday. "Add the fact the airline is booked to 90 percent for July, and you get a sense of how truly difficult of a situation we are facing."

Frontier spokesman Peter Kowalchuk said the golf ball-sized hail that pummeled the airport for about 15 minutes left dimples resembling an orange peel on the planes.

About 1,000 people had to spend Wednesday night at the airport when the storm first hit, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Frontier said it's paying the hotel bills for passengers who've been stranded.

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Filed by Matt Ferner  |