Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

November 7, 2013

Frontier to expand in Delaware

NEW CASTLE, Del. (AP) — 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 sale of Frontier by its parent company, Republic Airways, to Phoenix-based private equity firm Indigo Partners.

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.

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