“Welcome Frontier,” the terminal at Wilmington-New Castle Airport proclaims.
Part of that welcome is $2 million for security compliance and customer service improvements inside the passenger terminal, off Route 13 near New Castle.
Frontier Airlines on Feb. 11 is resuming nonstop service to Orlando, in what it calls a seasonal route running three times a week. It’s Delaware’s first scheduled commercial passenger service since Frontier withdrew in 2015.
The 1,250-acre airport is owned by New Castle County and since 1995 has been run by the Delaware River & Bay Authority, which runs five airports in Delaware and New Jersey.
The first change that passengers notice will be in entering the Wilmington-New Castle Airport: the main entrance is now at the light by the Quality Inn. The airport can also be accessed from an entrance further north, used by its business tenants.
The second change is that parking will no longer be free. The number of spaces has grown since Frontier withdrew. There are 388 in Lot A (11 handicapped), 330 in Lot B and 39 in the cellphone waiting lot. The daily parking rate is $5 after the first hour.
Inside the terminal, the ticketing and check-in counter is new, with modernized tech. The car rental area has its own counter nearby for Avis and Budget.
The security queue has expanded. Transportation Security Administration officers will be on site about two hours prior to scheduled flights and will begin to screen passengers and their baggage an hour before each scheduled departure.
The waiting area is bigger. Photos released by the authority of part of the waiting area don’t show the social distancing signage that will be installed.
Vending machines stock refreshments, but “if/when” more flights occur, the authority “will explore additional options, like a food truck,” said authority spokesman Jim Salmon.
What are the chances for more flights? He said, “It’s possible, but he was not aware of any plans.”
The baggage claim area has also expanded, with luggage still coming down a chute from workers outside into an area inside surrounded by passengers. Passengers will still walk out on the tarmac and up stairs to board the plane.
In the past, Joe Biden used the airport and the adjacent Air National Guard facilities, but in the future he’ll only be using the National Guard facilities, Salmon said.
The renovations also include technology infrastructure upgrades throughout the terminal to accommodate new passenger information displays and improved airline communications.
The Denver-based Frontier will use an 180-seat Airbus A320, with flights set for Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, in the morning from Orlando and the afternoon back to Florida.
When searching for flights, consumers are best off using ILG, the airport’s code, to avoid confusion with Wilmington, North Carolina, or any of the airport’s old names, which include Greater Wilmington Airport, New Castle Airport, Wilmington Airport and Wilmington Philadelphia Regional Airport.