October 14, 2015

Trenton-Mercer Airport Sees Passenger Surge For Frontier Airlines

FrontierWith Frontier Airlines promoting low fares and less stress than a trip to airports in Philadelphia or Newark, Trenton-Mercer Airport (TTN) is becoming a busy spot.

A report from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) covering the 12-month period ending March 31, 2015, shows Trenton-Mercer serving 394,815 passengers, a 105 percent increase over the previous year. The FAA also reports that Frontier made over $33 million at TTN last year, a 98 percent increase over the previous year.

TNN ranks fourth in New Jersey and 19th among the Eastern Region’s 59 commercial service airports in terms of the number of passengers using the facility. 

In commenting on the FAA report, Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes expressed his optimism for the future of the airport and for the continuing economic growth of the county: “I believe this confirms, once and for all, that there is an overwhelming demand for commercial passenger service here and it is finally being met. It also demonstrates that this is a very viable market for any airline willing to make a commitment here.”

Frontier is currently the only commercial carrier at TTN. Along with other low-cost carriers, Frontier has recently been under fire for a number of cost-cutting, revenue-enhancing measures, ranging from adding extra seats and tightening legroom, charging extra for carry-on bags and snacks, low percentages of on-time flights, and relatively high numbers of passenger complaints.

Mr. Hughes downplayed the criticism as a normal part of doing business and emphasized the competitiveness of the commercial airline business and the adaptability required to succeed. “Passengers are starting to demand more. Frontier will have to make decisions to ensure that they make themselves profitable.”

The Mercer County executive feels confident that the TTN-Frontier collaboration will be a viable, profitable one into the future. “They go to places where they can fill seats in their planes and you’ve got to respect that. They are finding Trenton-Mercer to be a great place for their business.”

From Trenton-Mercer, Frontier currently flies direct flights to 11 destinations. Its busiest routes are, in order of popularity, Orlando, Atlanta, Chicago, and Raleigh-Durham, followed by Fort Lauderdale, Charlotte, Tampa, Fort Myers, Saint Augustine and, on a seasonal basis, Detroit and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Frontier, whose company slogan is “Low Fares Done Right,” started service between Trenton-Mercer and Orlando in November 2012, and expanded from there to its other destinations.

Noting that Frontier currently uses both available gates at TTN, Mr. Hughes explained that “If we had more gate space probably we could attract additional business.” The county has for many years looked to expand the airport and attract more commercial business, but has encountered strong opposition from local suburban residents.

Mr. Hughes was upbeat about future prospects, regardless of the vicissitudes of the airline industry. Even if Frontier, which recently renewed its lease at TTN until 2018, were to move out, “We could find another airline,” Mr. Hughes declared. “We’re a very competitive county and we have a competitive product.”

Looking into the more distant future Mr. Hughes says he “would love to see a new airport in Mercer County — something that will make a real difference. This is a decision we’ll have to make carefully.” Because of the difficulty in driving to Newark and Philadelphia, Mr. Hughes says he sees “unlimited potential” in developing Mercer County’s capacity for commercial air travel.

On September 29 Mr. Hughes announced completion of the second phase of a four-phase rehabilitation of three runways at Trenton-Mercer, including new pavement, new lighting, and new markings. These improvements will increase safety and energy efficiency while reducing electrical costs with the replacement of the existing incandescent lighting system with LED taxiway edge lights, which are also easier to see in inclement weather.

New perimeter protection fencing, upgrading the fence to a height of ten feet with one foot of barbed wire on top, is also being installed during the next four months. along with several airport access gate upgrades.