Frontier Airlines will make Trenton's airport its East Coast base

Posted: January 16, 2013

Low-fare Frontier Airlines will make Trenton-Mercer Airport its commercial base on the East Coast and last week ended its one route - with about one daily flight - out of Philadelphia International Airport to Denver.

"Why Trenton? It's a densely populated area - 21/2 million people live closer in drive time to Trenton than any other airport with commercial airline service," said Daniel Shurz, a senior vice president of Frontier.

Since November, the Denver-based carrier has announced 10 nonstop destinations from the small Mercer County airport, beginning with two Orlando, Fla., departures and arrivals a week.

In a few weeks, Frontier will begin flights to three more Florida cities - Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa - and to New Orleans, from the compact airport in Ewing.

The Fort Myers and Tampa flights will begin Jan. 31, the New Orleans flight Feb. 1, and the Fort Lauderdale route Feb. 2.

On April 8 and 9, Frontier will start service from Trenton to Atlanta; Chicago-Midway airport; Detroit; Columbus, Ohio; and Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

Frontier's ending the Philadelphia-Denver route Jan. 7 was unrelated to the new service in Trenton, Shurz said.

"Philadelphia-Denver is an extremely competitive market. We were one of four carriers in the market. It wasn't economically viable enough," he said.

Frontier will still operate flights from Philadelphia for Apple Vacations Inc. to Cancun, Mexico; and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Frontier picked up the flights of USA3000, the airline operated by Newtown Square-based Apple Vacations. "That won't change; we're happy to keep doing it," Shurz said.

The greatest frequency on any route from Trenton will be six flights a week, using two aircraft.

"It's very much targeted to leisure customers. We think it's an alternative," Shurz said. "We want people to know the airport exists, to know it's an option. We think once people try it out, a high proportion will want to use it again."

In the Northeast, "there is a relative paucity of low-cost, low-fare carrier service," he said. "We think there is an incredible convenience to having an airport closer by, particularly when the big airports in the region are congested."

The Trenton-Mercer Airport is off Exit 2 on Interstate 95.

Amy Grossman, a Yardley resident and business owner, said she and her husband, Lou, "were thrilled" that Frontier will fly not just to Florida, but to cities where the couple has business and potential business, such as Chicago and Atlanta.

"It's a much smaller airport. Parking is a breeze. I'm sure security will be a breeze. And it's literally 10 to 12 minutes from my house," Grossman said.

The 1,300-acre airport, between New York and Philadelphia, is convenient to NJ Transit and an inexpensive taxi ride from Trenton.

Many small airlines have started air service from Trenton but could not make a go of it. They have included Eastwind Airlines, which started in Trenton in 1995 and later moved to Greensboro, N.C., and went out of business in 1999.

Frontier says it is an established carrier, with operational reliability and low costs. It has 60 aircraft and flies to more than 80 destinations in the United States, Costa Rica, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico.

"There hasn't been an airline trying what we are trying at any point in recent history," Shurz said. "We are flying full-size aircraft, nonstop to places we know people want to go."

Frontier will fly 138-seat Airbus A-319s from Trenton.

The airline has no current plans for Trenton beyond the 10 destinations. "We want to see how this service works," Shurz said. "We're going to give the new flights a chance to start flying."

The twice-weekly Orlando planes are more than 90 percent full this month. Bookings for February, when more cities will be added, look good, according to Shurz. "We are definitely pleased with what we are seeing," he said.

Introductory fares, depending on the route, were initially as low as $29 to $79 each way, for certain flights on some days - if booked on the Frontier website, flyfrontier.com.


Contact Linda Loyd at 215-854-2831 or lloyd@phillynews.com.

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