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Updated: Frontier dramatically cuts service out of Trenton-Mercer airport

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(Editor's note: This report was updated at 9 a.m. Tuesday with comments from Brian Hughes of Trenton-Mercer Airport.)

Apparently, things are not taking off at Trenton-Mercer Airport after all.

Frontier Airlines, the lone operator out of the airport, announced it is stopping service to four destinations (Nashville, Tennessee; St. Louis; Indianapolis; and Milwaukee) and temporarily stopping service to three others (Detroit, Minneapolis and Cincinnati), according to a report in The Times of Trenton.

The airline stopped servicing Cleveland last month.

The reductions mean the airport will now serve just 10 destinations (Atlanta; Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; Chicago-Midway; Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Orlando, St. Augustine/Jacksonville, Tampa and West Palm Beach, all in Florida).

Frontier spokesman Todd Lehmacher told The Times it was just a matter of demand.

"Trenton is still a relatively new market for Frontier with not a lot of historical route data, since no airline had ever attempted such an ambitious schedule out of the airport,” he said. “With some cities, we are still finding what works and what does not. We never like to enter a market and then discontinue service, but due to the high fixed costs of operating an airline, we can only fly where service makes economic sense."

Lehmacher, who could not immediately be reached for comment, was more optimistic in a report that appeared in NJBIZ on Dec. 3.

“We are pleased with our performance and appreciate our close partnership with Brian Hughes and the rest of the Trenton-Mercer team,” Lehmacher said then. “We are always looking at opportunities to expand our network, including at Trenton-Mercer as it makes economic sense.”

Hughes told NJBIZ that with Frontier being a "very lean and mobile carrier" that is always reassessing the viability of the service it offers, its announcement comes as less of a surprise.

"They're using market principles that they told us from the very beginning they would be," Hughes said.

Hughes said that, despite the service changes, he still feels very good about the airport's relationship with Frontier and noted that weekly frequencies to multiple destinations in Florida and to Charlotte have recently increased.

In addition, Frontier has made it a point to hire locally and maintain planes overnight at the airport, Hughes said.

"Through those actions and others, I think they've made a real commitment here to Mercer County."

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Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@njbiz.com.

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