You Won't Be Able to Book a Flight to This State, as of June 6
IT WILL NOW BE THE ONLY STATE IN THE U.S. WITHOUT COMMERCIAL AIRLINE SERVICE.
With summer fast approaching, many of us are eagerly planning much-needed getaways. Whether you're looking to explore a new destination or just get some well-deserved rest and relaxation, the first thing you'll have to do is book your flights. Those traveling within the U.S., however, will have a notable limitation: One domestic destination just got a lot more difficult to reach. Read on to find out which U.S. state will no longer have any commercial flights available for travelers, starting next month.
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Travel has been seeing major changes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel has been one of the largest sectors impacted. Starting with stay-at-home and quarantine orders, many airlines and airports faced significant hurdles just trying to stay afloat. Now, with restrictions being eased and the federal mask mandate for travel lifted, things seem to be looking up for the aviation industry—at least, when it comes to demand. Major airlines like Southwest, Delta, and American Airlines have been forced to cut flights this summer.
Beyond that, some destinations have become more challenging thanks to COVID restrictions, while one U.S. state is now losing commercial airline service completely.
Flights to and from Delaware will be ending next month.
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As of June 6, Frontier Airlines will suspend commercial flight service at Wilmington-New Castle Airport (ILG) in Delaware, the Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) announced. This will leave Delaware—the second smallest state, just behind Rhode Island—as the only state in the U.S. without commercial airline service.
"We are disappointed with the decision of Frontier Airlines ownership and management to discontinue scheduled service at Wilmington Airport—ILG prior to the busy summer season," the DRBA said in a statement on May 13. "Given the current economic and labor environment, the airline has made business choices across its system. We are hopeful that as it rationalizes current and future resources in anticipation of its proposed merger, the airline will choose to strategically restore service to Delaware."
According to The Points Guy, Wilmington-New Castle was an originating airport, meaning that travelers mostly took flights from the airport south to Florida. The announcement from DRBA affirms that commercial flights, which are separate from private aviation, were only one component of operations. The airport also offers corporate aviation, advanced flight training, and non-aviation businesses, and plays a role in the military via civil and national defense, the announcement said.
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This is not the first time Frontier has ceased operations at the Wilmington airport.
The decision to end service is connected to the demand for flights, The Delaware News Journal first reported. The final flight between Wilmington, Delaware, and Orlando, Florida is scheduled for June 6, 2022.
"Sufficient demand did not materialize to support the service," Jennifer de la Cruz, a Frontier spokesperson, said in a statement reported to The News Journal. "We are continually evaluating our routes and [the New Castle Airport] will certainly remain in the consideration set for potential service in the future."
The route between Delaware and Florida was first announced in Jan. 2020 and was anticipated to begin seasonal operation in May of the same year. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, plans were delayed until Feb. 2021, The Points Guy reported. Prior to this, the Delaware airport had commercial service via Frontier to different destinations in Florida, as well as Chicago, Illinois; Atlanta, Georgia; Denver, Colorado; Detroit, Michigan; and Houston, Texas, according to the Delaware Business Times. This was discontinued in April 2015.
Travelers will have to fly out of other nearby airports.
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Frontier had logged over 10,000 commercial flights out of Wilmington in 2021, which prompted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to upgrade Wilmington-New Castle from a "general aviation reliever airport" to a "primary commercial service airport." With the change, the airport also saw an increase in federal funding, The Delaware News Journal reported, moving from $150,000 to $1 million.
With no more commercial flights, funding will likely be affected, and travelers will now have to travel to nearby airports in Baltimore and Philadelphia to board flights. No plans have been announced for when commercial flights will return to Delaware, but the DRBA confirmed finding a new service "will remain one of the key goals."
"The management and staff of the DRBA continue to believe that scheduled commercial air service can and will succeed at Wilmington Airport—ILG," the statement said. "The airport's excellent location along the busy I-95 corridor, along with the lowest cost operating environment of any airport in the US, offers customers the opportunity to forego the stress and expense of a big city airport."
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