Frontier Airlines will take it easy in re-launching scheduled airline service from Wilmington-New Castle Airport.
Officials of the airline and the Delaware River and Bay Authority announced the low-fare carrier will offer flights three times a week to and from Orlando, beginning on May 14.
Renovation work is underway at the terminal off Route 13, New Castle, with work underway on a new ticket counter and passenger area.
Steven Williams, who heads airport operations for the DRBA, said the authority had been in communication with Frontier since its departure in 2015.
Williams acknowledged that the DRBA took some heat after Frontier’s decision to pull out of the market.
Late last year year, New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer appointed a panel to study the future of the airport, which is leased to the DRBA by the county. The county has to give advance notice the the authority if it wishes to cancel the lease.
Tom Cook, DRBA executive director, said his predecessor Scott Green laid the groundwork for future service with $4.5 million spent on parking and a landing apron that can handle up to three aircraft.
Cook says more announcements are likely. “Stay tuned, there’s more to come,” he added.
Daniel Shurz, Frontier’s senior vice president, who was with the carrier the first time it launched service from Wilmington-New Castle, said Frontier is a different airline this time around with extensive experience in operating from smaller airports.
This time around, Frontier enters the market with greater brand awareness, thanks to flights to a couple of dozen cities from Philadelphia International Airport, Shurz said.
Meanwhile, airline has gradually grown its presence in Trenton-Mercer County with nearly a dozen and half non-stops.
Frontier reportedly has the lowest operating costs among larger carriers, giving it a cushion in launching new service. Promotional fares, will start at about $60 round-trip with additional charges for more legroom or baggage in the overhead department.
“Small airports are a wonderful thing,” Shurz said in urging those in the audience to tell their friends to book flights..
Shurz said additional service is likely, with Florida a focus area for the airline. Frontier is building a maintenance base in Orlando and has added flights to Miami. The airline typically adds seasonal service to winter destinations in Florida from Philadelphia and Trenton.
By contrast, Frontier, the last time around quickly ramped up service to multiple destinations from Wilmington-New Castle but gradually dropped other flights. Florida service ended in 2015.
Still, the Frontier reservations site, which is now taking reservations for Orlando, only allows booking through August.
Frontier recently ended service from a small airport in Louisiana, citing low traffic figures.
Gov. John Carney was upbeat about prospects for the airline, citing the low fares. The governor, who grew up in Claymont, said his dad would have rounded up the family’s nine children for a trip to Orlando had the service been available.
The event ended with officials cutting a jet cake made by Newark-based Desserts by Dana.