Milestone for commercial flight in Delaware [video]

 (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

(Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

Setting an airport record, Frontier Airlines welcomed its 200,000th passenger to travel through the New Castle Airport on Thursday.

Located on Rt. 13 just south of Wilmington, the New Castle Airport has long served as a hub for corporate jets due to Delaware’s business-friendly environs; passenger service, however, has been much more hit or miss. After a number of attempts by companies of various size over the years, passenger service may finally be taking off.

A Chicago woman boarding a return flight Thursday morning was the 200,000 passenger to fly on Frontier through the airport. Kathy Clark said she liked the smaller size of the airport and had hoped it would stay a hidden gem.

“I wasn’t going to tell anyone because this is a little hidden secret,” Clark said. “I guess not so well hidden any more.”

Frontier has seen steady business since it started flights originating from Delaware 11 months ago.

“We couldn’t be happier that we’ve reached this point,” said Stephen William, airport director for the Delaware River and Bay Authority which runs the airport. “The airport has never processed this  many passengers at any point in our history, so we are commemorating this as an important milestone.”

Williams is optimistic that greater numbers of air travelers in the future will be able to take advantage of shorter lines and less hassle at the airport.

“[There’s] every indication that this is the right strategy,” he said. “We always knew that large airplanes and low fares is the winning formula.”

Frontier recently started a red-eye flight from Denver that arrives in New Castle around 6 a.m., while a Denver-bound flight leaves Delaware around 9:30 p.m. In addition to the Denver flights, Frontier also travels to and from Chicago, Atlanta, Orlando, Tampa, and Ft. Myers. The company is ending service from New Castle to Detroit in September.

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