Frontier Airlines is ending service to and from New Castle Airport, the airline confirmed Friday to the (Delaware) News Journal, which is part of the USA TODAY Network.
Once Frontier completes its last flight on June 6, Delaware will once again be the only state without commercial air service.
“Sufficient demand has not materialized to sustain the service,” Frontier spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz said in a statement.
“We are continually evaluating our routes and (New Castle Airport) will certainly remain on the list of considerations for potential service in the future.”
Delaware River and Bay Authority spokesman Jim Salmon said in a statement that the DRBA, which operates the airport, is “disappointed” with Frontier’s decision but continues to believe commercial air service “can and will succeed” at the airport.
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This is the second time Frontier has left Delaware. After two years in service, Frontier quietly ended commercial flights from New Castle Airport in 2015. The move left some customers with tickets to flights that no longer existed.
In January 2020, Frontier announced plans to return to Delaware with flights from New Castle Airport to Orlando scheduled to begin the following May.
At the time, Frontier executive Daniel Shurz said, “I’m telling you, we’re here to stay.”
Shurz touted Frontier as a bigger, more efficient company in 2020 with a foothold next door in Philadelphia to build from. It would start small and add more flights as the business grows instead of offering a large number of east-west trips from the start.
But Shurz also warned that “if we don’t see the right results fast enough, we will absolutely pull the service.”
Those May flights never took off as the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the entire airline industry. Frontier postponed the start of its Delaware service several times during the pandemic, finally starting flights in February 2021.
At that time, DRBA completed approximately $2 million worth of renovations to the airport’s screening areas and passenger terminal to prepare for Frontier’s commercial service.
Stephen Williams, director of airports for DRBA, said at the time that Frontier’s return was “a commitment to Delaware and a testament to the sustainability of the passenger demand market” at New Castle Airport.
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At first, Frontier offered flights to Orlando on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. He eventually reduced flights from Orlando to Mondays and Fridays. It never added flights to other destinations.
In February, Frontier announced a $3 billion merger deal with budget rival Spirit Airlines. In the companies’ announcement, they said they expect all employees to stay in place and create 10,000 jobs by 2026.
“We hope that by rationalizing current and future resources in anticipation of its proposed merger, the airline will choose to strategically restore service to Delaware,” said DRBA spokesman Salmon.
The loss of Frontier will likely impact airport funding. In November, the DRBA announced that New Castle Airport had surpassed 10,000 boardings for the year, earning them senior status with the Federal Aviation Administration.
The change in designation from “general aviation relief airport” to “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 a fee to use the airport.
July and August were the most popular months for travel from New Castle Airport last year.
Remaining Frontier flights start at $48.
Salmon said securing new commercial service “will remain one of the airport’s primary goals.”
“The airport’s excellent location along the busy I-95 corridor, along with the least expensive operating environment of any airport in the United States, offers customers the opportunity to forgo the stress and expenses of a major city airport,” Salmon said.