Frontier Airlines delays return of Delaware service again
WILMINGTON – Frontier Airlines has again pushed back the relaunch of round-trip service between New Castle County Airport and Orlando, Fla., this time to mid-February.
It appears that service will now begin on Feb. 11, 2021, with round-trip fares that will be higher than what Frontier was originally advertising when service was expected to start on Nov. 12.
It’s the third time that the start date has changed since the airline first announced that it would return to flying out of the Wilmington airport on May 14 with three low-cost flights per week to Orlando on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays from both cities.
Officials with Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA), which operates the airport, confirmed in April that the airline had postponed its return “indefinitely,” but declined to answer any other questions concerning the decision. State and county officials expressed disappointment, but said they understood the reasons for the delay.
“We are pleased that Frontier Airlines intends to honor their previously announced plan to restart service to Wilmington-ILG,” DRBA spokesman James Salmon said. “It is understandable that due to COVID-19, the company has elected to delay the first flight until next February 2021. It is equally important to us that the restored service to Orlando International (MCO) from ILG be commercially successful from day one. Customers holding tickets for previously scheduled flights from ILG to Orlando should visit the airline online at www.flyfrontier.com or call their toll-free number for more information.”
The Frontier website continues to say that the airline will be using a 180-seat Airbus A320, which is a larger plane that was originally planned. It is allowing flyers to purchase tickets, using ILG as the code for New Castle Airport and MCO as the code for Orlando International Airport. Flyers will then be able to travel to other destinations from Orlando.
Frontier officials said at a January press conference that its decision to return to the market it left five years ago included passenger growth in the Philadelphia market; a 20% decrease in costs since 2015; and data that indicates a strong customer base in Delaware based on its passengers’ residential zip codes. Frontier said at the time that it did not receive any incentives from state or local sources.
The New Castle County Airport received a $157,000 grant from the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress earlier this year. Congress disseminated grant funds across nearly all airports in order to help them survive through a period of dramatically lower flights and passenger service due to stay-at-home orders.
By Peter Osborne