Remember how Frontier Airlines was expanding into secondary airports, adding a variety of routes and hoping to build up a strong operation? Turns out that is not working so well for the company. The latest casualty of that plan is Wilmington, Delaware. Frontier was the only commercial operator at the airport for the past couple years and it will not be returning. The carrier served as many as eight routes from Wilmington during the peak of operations last summer. The cuts came in waves, initially mostly announced as seasonal schedule reductions. Ultimately the flights were cancelled outright with the company declining to renew its lease at the airport last week.
Not surprisingly, the company’s version of the story is that the operation was losing money and could not be sustained. The flip side of that, however, is DoT stats which suggest load factors were in the 80% range and that 10,000 passengers boarded flights each month during the summer. Of course, it is easy to fill planes with cheap fares and harder to make them profitable; the truth probably lies somewhere in between.
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This also means that, once again, Delaware resumes its status as the only state lacking commercial air service. Over the past two decades the longest stint the facility has seen with service is about 18 months. Delta made a go of it and SkyBus had flights for a month once. Much like those operations previously, Frontier couldn’t make the airport work.
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As for me, I managed to be on two different inaugurals at ILG on the same day last year. I’m pretty happy I got that experience because it seems unlikely anyone else is going to try again in the near future. It was a cute little airport and easy to get through, mostly because so few people use it. No decent facilities and only really convenient if you live right there. I can see why it wasn’t a big hit, especially with the service changes which the airline kept throwing at passengers.
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