Frontier Airlines is ending its service to and from New Castle airport, the airline confirmed Friday to Delaware Online/The News Journal.
After Frontier completes its last flight on June 6, Delaware will once again be the only state without commercial airline service.
“There was not enough demand to support the service,” Frontier spokesman Jennifer de la Cruz said in a statement.
“We are constantly evaluating our routes and [the New Castle Airport] will certainly remain under consideration for possible service in the future.”
Delaware River and Bay Authority spokesman Jim Salmon said in a statement that DRBA, which operates the airport, is “disappointed” with Frontier’s decision but continues to believe that commercial air services “can and will succeed” at the airport.
This is Frontier’s second time leaving Delaware. After two years of service, Frontier quietly ended its commercial flights from New Castle Airport in 2015. The move gave some customers tickets for flights that no longer existed.
In January 2020, Frontier announced plans to return to Delaware with flights from New Castle Airport to Orlando, Florida, scheduled for the following May.
At the time, Frontier Director Daniel Shurz said, “I’m telling you, we’re here to stay.”
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Shurz presented Frontier in 2020 as a bigger, more efficient company with a foothold next door in Philadelphia to build on. It would start small and add more flights as the company developed, rather than offering a large number of east-to-west trips from the get-go.
But Shurz also warned: “If we don’t see the right results relatively soon, we will absolutely withdraw the service.”
Those May flights never took off as the COVID-19 pandemic grounded the entire airline industry. Frontier delayed the start of their Delaware service several times during the pandemic, eventually starting flights in February 2021.
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By this time, DRBA had completed approximately $2 million in renovations to the airport’s screening areas and passenger terminal to prepare for Frontier’s commercial service.
Stephen Williams, DRBA’s director of airports, said Frontier’s return at the time was a “commitment to Delaware and a testament to the market sustainability of passenger demand” at the New Castle airport.
Initially, Frontier offered flights to Orlando on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. It eventually rolled the Orlando flights back to Monday and Friday. It never added flights to other destinations.
In February, Frontier announced a $3 billion merger deal with its low-budget rival Spirit Airlines. In the companies announcement, they said they expected all employees to remain employed and add 10,000 jobs by 2026.
“We are hopeful that, as the airline rationalizes current and future resources in anticipation of the proposed merger, it will choose to strategically restore service in Delaware,” said Salmon, the DRBA spokesperson.
Frontier’s loss is likely to affect the airport’s financing. In November, DRBA announced that the New Castle Airport has passed 10,000 boardings for the year, earning them a higher status with the Federal Aviation Administration.
The change of designation from a “general aviation reliever airport” to a “primary commercial service airport” increased the airport’s annual federal allocation from $150,000 to at least $1 million. The more passengers the airport has, the more it receives from the FAA. Frontier also paid fees to use the airport.
July and August were the most popular months to travel from New Castle Airport last year.
The remaining Frontier flights start at $48.
Salmon said securing new commercial services “will continue to be one of the airport’s main goals”.
“The airport’s prime location along the busy I-95 corridor, along with the cheapest operating environment of any airport in the US, gives customers the opportunity to avoid the stress and expense of a major city airport,” said salmon.