Frontier Airlines to return service to New Castle Airport almost five years after it ceased Delaware

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Brandon Holveck - Delaware Online

Frontier Airlines is returning service to the New Castle Airport, almost five years after it quietly stopped its Delaware operation.

Gov. John Carney is scheduled to announce the move Tuesday at a press conference.

In an email Saturday morning, a Frontier spokesperson said, "We have nothing to add at this time." The Delaware River and Bay Authority, which operates the airport, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Delaware has been the only state without commercial airline service since Frontier left in June 2015. At the time, a Frontier spokesperson told Delaware Online/The News Journal that the company pulled out because it wasn't profitable in Delaware. He said it would reevaluate if "market conditions change."

As of Saturday morning, flights out of the New Castle Airport, which Frontier previously referred to as Wilmington/Philadelphia New Castle Airport (ILG), were not listed on Frontier's booking website.

Frontier's first run in Delaware lasted roughly two years. The Denver-based airline once offered flights to Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Houston and Orlando, Fort Myers and Tampa, Florida. By November 2014, only flights to Orlando and Tampa remained. 

Cancelled flights led to customer frustration, many reporting hour-long waits on the phone to get refunds or being required to pay the difference between direct and connect service flights. 

Despite the customer displeasure Stephen Williams, director of airports for the Delaware River and Bay Authority, told Delaware Online/The News Journal in 2015 that passenger counts "proved beyond a doubt" that commercial service out of New Castle is viable. 

According to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation, flights to and from seven of Frontier's eight destinations at the start of 2015 were more than 80% full. An average of more than 140 people were on flights to and from six of those routes.

In October, New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer formed a task force to study the future of the airport, as the county must decide whether to renew or end its current agreement with the Delaware River and Bay Authority before June 2020. A county spokesperson said the state and DRBA were responsible for the recent changes.

Frontier is an ultra low-cost carrier. It charges low-based fares with add-on charges for food, carry-on bags and other services. Frontier has a presence in the Philadelphia and Baltimore airports.


Contact Brandon Holveck at bholveck@delawareonline.com or at (302) 324-2267. Follow on Twitter @holveck_brandon


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