Frontier to exit Port Columbus, drops flight to Trenton, N.J.

Mark Williams, The Columbus Dispatch

December 4, 2013

Frontier Airlines is dropping its Columbus-to-Trenton, N.J., service less than a year after it started.

The airline will discontinue its three weekly nonstop flights from Port Columbus to Trenton-Mercer Airport on Jan. 4, said David Whitaker, the Columbus Regional Airport Authority's vice president of business development.

The low-cost flights marked Frontier's return to Columbus after the airline dropped service to Milwaukee in June 2012.

"They've left the door open to returning, and we'd welcome them back," Whitaker said.

Whitaker was disappointed in Frontier's decision.

"Every passenger counts and every airline counts," he said. "We'll definitely miss them."

The airline did not respond to requests for comment.

Whitaker said airport officials were told the flights didn't generate enough revenue for Frontier. In today's airline industry, airlines react quickly to how well markets are working for them, he said.

"They've got to make a move if it's not working and that's what they did," he said.

The selling point of the Trenton flights was that they offered access to the New Jersey state capital, central New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia.

The route probably wasn't attractive to business flyers interested in going to Philadelphia or New York, and it would take time to develop Trenton as a leisure destination, Whitaker said. There also wasn't much advertising to support the flight.

Frontier's decision to drop service comes as its owner, Republic Airways, is selling the airline to private-equity firm Indigo Partners in a deal valued at about $145 million.

Frontier is testing different markets to see what is working, said Andrew Vasey, president of Indianapolis-based Vasey Aviation Group, an aviation-services firm.

"It's probably more related to where they needed the aircraft and where the market is responding," he said of Frontier's decision.

He also said the ownership change could have something to do with the decision as well.

"There is so much in flux with Frontier now," he said.