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Business in brief: Frontier adding Rockies flights

Frontier Airlines Holdings Inc. said Thursday it will expand service to eight cities as it works to improve its bottom line while coping with high fuel costs and aggressive competition.

The new destinations are Colorado Springs, Aspen, Grand Junction and Durango in Colorado; Missoula and Bozeman in Montana; Fargo, N.D., and Jackson, Wyo.

Frontier’s goal is to drive more traffic to its hub at Denver International Airport, where it competes with United and Southwest airlines.

Calyon Securities airline analyst Raymond Neidl said the move into smaller markets may benefit Frontier if there is enough traffic to sustain operations.

“They’ve got to diversify as much as they can out of Denver,” he said. “They are being squeezed on one end by United and the other by Southwest.”


Home sales down in most states

Sales of existing homes fell in 45 states during the October-December quarter, with metropolitan areas showing growing weakness, a real estate trade group said Thursday.

The fourth-quarter data from the National Association of Realtors underscore the breadth of the housing market’s slump.

South Dakota was the lone state to show a sales increase. Existing home sales there rose 8.9 percent from the same quarter a year ago. Sales were unchanged in North Dakota. No sales figures were available for Idaho, Indiana and New Hampshire. Sales also fell in Washington, D.C.

Median home prices fell in more than half of the 150 metropolitan areas surveyed. Out of the 77 that experienced declines, 16 showed double-digit percentage drops, the trade group said.

Lawrence Yun, the trade group’s chief economist, attributed the declines in median prices to mortgage market problems. The states suffering the biggest drops in sales in the fourth quarter were Nevada, 44 percent, and Wyoming, 42 percent. Other states with big declines were New Mexico, 39 percent; Oregon, 38 percent; and Arizona, 37.6 percent.

Juneau, Alaska

ConocoPhillips reviewing project

Oil giant ConocoPhillips says it needs to rethink its multibillion-dollar gas line proposal to bring nearly 35 trillion cubic feet of North Slope natural gas to market.

The Houston-based company said Thursday it will still begin field work this summer, but said it is frustrated by Gov. Sarah Palin’s failure to discuss tax and royalty terms for developing the natural gas fields.

The company is forging ahead with its own pipeline proposal, which was submitted outside the bid requirements set by the state of Alaska for companies wishing to bid for a state license. Only one of five bids – TransCanada Alaska Co., LLC – has advanced to the next round of consideration, a public comment period.

ConocoPhillips didn’t submit a bid, but presented its pipeline proposal as an alternative path. It was rejected by Palin, but the company has continued to push its proposal with legislators.