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Frontier Airlines to expand despite delay in sale

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Frontier Airlines announced Wednesday that it is expanding operations at the New Castle Airport in Delaware with flights to Detroit and Atlanta.

Frontier CEO David Siegel said that, in addition to previously announced plans to begin service to Fort Myers, Fla., starting Nov. 16, the Denver-based discount air carrier will begin nonstop flights to Atlanta and Detroit on April 29.

Siegel said the Wilmington expansion plans do not depend upon completion of the proposed $145 million sale of Frontier by its Indianapolis-based parent company, Republic Airways Holdings Inc., to Phoenix-based private equity firm Indigo Partners LLC.

Republic's sale to Indigo, however, would result in a well-capitalized, privately owned company with the potential to expand even faster, he said.

"Should that transaction close, you'll see us growing at a much more significant rate," Siegel said, adding that it's normal for a new owner of a business to look at existing operations.

"We're committed to Wilmington either way," he said.

Republic Airways said Tuesday that a Monday deadline for the Indigo sale would be extended by two more days. While not providing any details, Siegel said officials likely would know where the deal stands either late Wednesday or Thursday.

Indigo, which sold its stake in Florida-based discount carrier Spirit Airlines earlier this year, is run by former America West airline CEO Bill Franke. Indigo wants to turn Frontier into an "ultra-discount" airline but has said it needs agreements with the Frontier flight attendants union, and with Barclays, which issues a Frontier-affiliated credit card, in order to close the deal.

"They'll make us an even better competitor and an even more successful airline," Siegel said.

Frontier began operating from Wilmington this summer, ending a five-year period in which Delaware had no commercial air service. It currently offers service from Wilmington to Chicago, Orlando, Tampa and Denver but dropped flights to Houston because of low demand.

"The Houston market was a disappointment ... All the other markets are doing well," said Siegel, adding that Frontier is operating at about 90-percent capacity in Wilmington.

"People are coming out and voting with their wallets," said Siegel, whose company is hoping more travelers recognize Wilmington as a cheaper, friendlier and more convenient option to larger regional airports in Philadelphia and Baltimore.

New Castle Airport director Stephen Williams said the facility has processed more than 70,000 passengers since Frontier began operating in July, roughly equally split between departures and arrivals.

"Low-cost airport translates into low-fare airline. That's what the consumers are looking for," Williams said.

Gov. Jack Markell did his best Wednesday to promote Frontier, urging people to check out the company's website when making travel plans.

"Some of the fares are just incredible ... In the end, their success is our success," Markell said.

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  1. Now if he'd just stay there...

  2. Daniel - what about the many US citizens who do NOT follow what the Bible teaches? The Hindus, Jews, Muslims and others who are all American citizens entitled to all rights as Americans?? This issue has NOTHING to do with "What the Bible says..." Keep all Churches separate from State! Pence's ongoing idiocy continues to make Indiana look like a backwards, homophobic state in the eyes of our nation. Can't we move on to bigger issues - like educating our kids?

  3. 1. IBJ should link to the referenced report. We are in the age of electronic media...not sharing information is lazy. Here is a link http://www.in.gov/gov/files/Blue_Ribbon_Panel_Report_July_9_2014.pdf 2. The article should provide more clarity about the make-up of this panel. The commenters are making this item out to be partisan, it does not appear the panel is partisan. Here is a list of the panel which appears to be balanced with different SME to add different perspectives http://www.in.gov/activecalendar/EventList.aspx?view=EventDetails&eventidn=138116?formation_id=189603 3. It suggests a by-pass, I do not see where this report suggests another "loop". 4. Henry, based on your kneejerk reaction, we would be better off if you moved to another state unless your post was meant as sarcasm in which case I say Well Done. 5. The article and report actually indicates need to improve rail and port infrastructure in direct contradiction to Shayla commentary. Specifically, recommendation is to consider passenger rail projects... 6. People have a voice with their elected officials. These are suggestions and do not represent "crony capitalism", etc. The report needs to be analyzed and the legislature can decide on priorities and spending. Don't like it, then vote in a new legislature but quit artificially creating issues where there are none! People need to sift through the politics and provide constructive criticism to the process rather than making uninformed comments in a public forum based on misinformation. IBJ should work harder to correct the record in these forums when blatant errors or misrepresentations are made.

  4. Joe ... Marriage is defined in the Bible ... it is mentioned in the Bible often. Marriage is not mentioned once in the US or Indiana Constitution ...

  5. Daniel - Educate me please: what does the Bible have to do with laws? If the government wasn't in the business of marriage to begin with, then it wouldn't have to "define" marriage at all. Marriage could be left as a personal, religious, or otherwise unregulated action, with no ties to taxes, legal status, etc. Then people could marry whomever they want, and all this silliness would go away. Remember to vote Libertarian in November.

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