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This US state is about to lose all of its commercial airline service

Published May 17th, 2022 9:04AM EDT
frontier airlines
Image: Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS/Newscom/Mega Agency

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If you were thinking of booking a flight to Delaware soon, you might want to reconsider or figure out an alternative method of transportation. In less than a month, Frontier Airlines is set to end its service to and from Delaware’s New Castle Airport near Wilmington. Once that happens, on June 6? Well, the state where President Biden served as a US Senator for 36 years will be the only one in the US without commercial airline service.

This is the second time, by the way, that the low-cost air carrier Frontier — which blamed its decision on a lack of sufficient traveler demand — has come and gone from the state.

Goodbye, Frontier Airlines

In keeping with its back-and-forth presence in the state, however, a Frontier Airlines spokesperson has left open the possibility that the New Castle Airport (which has the airport code ILG) “will certainly remain in the consideration set” for potential service in the future.

In the meantime, Frontier’s departure doesn’t completely preclude travelers who come from an extended distance and who want to fly as opposed to driving all the way to the state. There are some easy alternative options that we’ll get into below.

Nevertheless, as noted, this does give Delaware the odd distinction as of June 6 of being the only US state with airports that offer no commercial passenger air service. So, how the heck will you get there if you want to visit?

Alternatives for travel to Delaware

You’ve got a few options:

If you’re close enough, as in a neighboring state, you can always drive.

In lieu of driving, you can also take one of President Biden’s favorite modes of public transportation: Amtrak.

There are two airports outside the state, that are very close to the state, which you can alternatively fly into. From Baltimore’s nearby airport, you’ve got five transportation options for getting into Delaware. They include train, bus, taxi, and shuttle, or you can rent a car and drive yourself. You’re looking at a probably 90-minute trip there.

Philadelphia International Airport is another option. The trip from there into Delaware is roughly comparable, time-wise, to what you’d face coming from Baltimore’s airport. And you’ve got similar transportation options to choose from — such as a train, bus, shuttle, or renting a car and driving.

Frontier-Spirit merger

Frontier Airlines, meanwhile, is also in the news right now for another reason beyond the Delaware departure. Earlier this year, the air carrier along with Spirit Airlines jointly announced a planned multi-billion-dollar merger. A deal that, as I wrote at the time, would basically combine the two airlines that draw the most ire from consumers into a kind of mega-hated airline.

The merger, however, seems to be going about as smoothly as one of Frontier Airlines’ cheap, turbulent flights.

Not to be outdone, JetBlue has gone hostile in its own bid to acquire Spirit for the third time. On Monday, per news reports, we learned that JetBlue is taking its case directly to Spirit’s shareholders. Its goal is to convince the airline to sit down at the table and strike a bargain, edging out Frontier.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.