ILM receives $ 6.5 million from airport bailout for Covid-19 economic recovery

ILM had a record year in 2019, but was hit hard in 2020 by the Covid-19 pandemic. (Port City Daily / Shea Carver)

WILMINGTON – Last week Wilmington International Airport (ILM) announced that it had received $ 6,552,227 from the Airport Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). President Joe Biden signed the law in March 2021 as part of the US bailout.

ARPA authorizes the disbursement of $ 6.5 billion to qualifying airports nationwide that serve commercial airlines and handle at least 10,000 passengers per year. An additional $ 800 million will be used to finance rents and annual guarantees for in-terminal concessions. $ 100 million will go to non-primary commercial service and general aviation airports.

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The Federal Aviation Administration is overseeing payments to help provide economic relief from Covid-19. The ILM can use the money for “operations, personnel, cleaning, disinfection, janitorial services, controlling the spread of pathogens and debt service payments,” according to a press release. .

“These fundraising efforts are contributing to the economic recovery of ILM and airports across the country and have helped ensure that the transportation and safety needs of the communities we serve are met,” said the faculty director. Granseur Dick in the press release.

ILM received nearly $ 20 million under the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) law last spring. The money has helped the airport keep staff and increase cleaning protocols during the height of the pandemic.

It also received $ 21.1 million in federal grants last fall, for the expansion of its terminal, which is expected to be completed by December 2021. The $ 61 million project will include new gates and areas ticket offices, a third TSA lane, more concessions, as updates to its outgoing baggage for its airline partners.

The fifth largest airport in the state, ILM had an economic impact of $ 2.25 billion and created more than 16,000 jobs in Wilmington in 2019, according to the 2020 report from the NCDOT Division of Aviation. 2019 was a banner year for ILM, which served more than one million passengers. Covid-19 has interrupted travel by more than 50% to Wilmington. ILM passengers exceeded just over 470,000 for the entire year.

In May 2021, ILM announced that it was on track to rebound to pre-pandemic levels, even surpassing the national average by 12%. It reached 79% of its 2019 figures in May. It was also showing promising trends in June, according to a statement, with passenger numbers slightly above 95% -99% of 2019 levels.

“We are delighted to see our numbers rebound so strongly,” said then deputy airport manager Gary Broughton. Broughton, who was due to retire in the fall, became interim director of ILM after the departure of former director Julie Wilsey. Last month, the New Hanover County Airport Authority unanimously voted to end Wilsey’s employment contract; reasoning was not given as to the reason.

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Broughton will serve as ILM’s interim director until the end of the year as the authority searches for a new director.

“Our team remains committed to providing a safe, clean and exceptional experience for our customers and is delighted to welcome travelers back to ILM,” Broughton said in a statement.

This summer, the airport restored seasonal routes through American, Delta and United, including non-stop service to Boston five days a week.

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