Frontier Airlines has landed a deal at the New Castle County Airport. The airline officially announced that it will begin commercial services from the Delaware terminal beginning this summer.
The commercial transportation from New Castle to four U.S. cities was a major announcement for airline which has been growing their low-cost fares at small private airports in the U.S.
Daniel Shurz, vice president of commercial for Frontier said the New Castle County Airport had many of the ideal qualities that the airline was looking for.
“We see a large population base who’s closer to Wilmington and New Castle than any other airport,” Shurz said. “We see the opportunity to work with an airport authority and an airport that’s committed to low cost. And we can therefore, offer a truly convenient alternative to Philadelphia and to other big airports in the region.”
When and where?
Scheduled for takeoff July 1, three flights a week will head to Chicago and Houston, two flights a week will go to Tampa and Orlando and four flights a week will go to the airline’s Denver, Colo. hometown.
This isn’t the first time an airline has tried to offer commercial flights from the New Castle terminal. The last attempt was from Skybus who went bankrupt in 2008.
But state leaders are confident that Frontier has made enough of an investment to be a lasting operation.
“I’ve watched the ebb and flow of commercial service that have come here but Frontier has made a commitment to Delaware,” said Alan Levin, director of the Delaware Economic Development Office. “Other airlines have come in with one flight, two flights; really have put their toe in the water. Frontier has jumped in.”
Congressman John Carney said the goal of the airport has always been to have some type of commercial service and the true challenge will be whether or not customers will utilize the flights.
“That’ll be the test is whether or not people will opt for a quicker in and out, less hassle, discount fares, coming to a smaller airport, like DRBA in New Castle County to go to these larger destinations,” said Carney.
Stephen Williams, director of airports for the Delaware River and Bay Authority, said they will have to make minimal changes to accommodate the airline.
“The infrastructure is in place. I think that the key to this service coming here and being attractive is that they can begin service immediately,” said Williams. “The airport over the years, we’ve made significant investments in the infrastructure, runways, taxiways, so what this airlines comes into is an environment that is essentially ready to go.”
He also said some new jobs will be created through security, flight crews and ground handlers.
Gov. Jack Markell added that the airline will provide a great economic boost to the surrounding areas.
“One of the things our county council executive and our county council president are focused on all the time is how do we help local businesses because that’s the life blood and for us to have this opportunity means that local restaurants, hotels, motels, gas stations and the like will be doing more business,” said Markell.
Last year, Frontier set up shop at the Trenton-Mercer Airport and now operates ten non-stop routes from that airport. Shurz added that if all goes well in New Castle, they may consider adding additional flights.
“We’re going to make sure we see similar results in terms of volume of customers from new castle, airport. Where it eventually goes is dependent on customers,” he said. “It depends on customer demand but we certainly think there’s enough opportunity here to grow beyond this first aircraft.”