[caption id="attachment_235608" align="aligncenter" width="900"] The Delaware River and Bay Authority is moving forward on renovating its terminal, including $6.6 million in its five year spending plan. | PHOTO COURTESY OF THE DELAWARE RIVER AND BAY AUTHORITY.[/caption]
WILMINGTON — Citing strong customer service demand, the Delaware River & Bay Authority (DRBA) is planning to invest $9.9 million to expand the Wilmington Airport (ILG) over the course of five years.The DRBA five-year capital improvement plan approved on Jan. 24 targets to spend $6.6 million to expand the ILG terminal’s hold room capacity and expand customer service opportunities. Breaking that cost down, the agency plans to spend $1.9 million on the project this year. Another $4.7 million budgeted in the years 2025 to 2028.Parking is also top of capital spending, as the DRBA has planned to spend $2.8 million this year to create temporary parking by demolishing the former Skyways Motor Lodge Damon’s Grill. Another $502,000 is planned to be spent on this project in the next five years.“At the Wilmington Airport terminal, we need to expand the size of the terminal gate area to accommodate current customer demand,” DRBA Public Information Officer James Salmon said.The entire DRBA capital improvement program is $132 million.With Avelo Airlines drawing scores of customers to the terminal on Route 13, the extra parking lot and other renovations hope to build off a strong run for the start-up air service. Avelo Airlines first flew out of Wilmington in February 2023, and close to the year’s end, it had already shattered the record for most commercial passengers out of ILG.By late November, Avelo had flown more than 200,000 customers to or from Wilmington — close to double the prior record set in 2014 by Frontier Airlines. It also broke the previous mark of 104,488 enplanements, or passengers who boarded in Wilmington in 2014.There are currently 800 parking spots at ILG, with a third lot opened near the Air Transport Command restaurant last August. But since that parking lot is further away, the DRBA runs a shuttle service to the terminal.Through aquiring the existing hotel and restaurant land, the DRBA added 250 spaces. Once the building foundation is removed and the site is paved over, it’s anticipated to add another 250 spaces. That will bring the airport’s parking to 1,300 spots when the project is complete.“There’s another third phase of work on the site that will expand and improve the current circulation roadway, and further expand parking to prepare for future terminal site development. This phase of work is still in the planning stages,” Salmon told the Delaware Business Times.Today, Avelo serves 11 nonstop destinations from its ILG base and employs about 100 crewmembers, including pilots, flight attendants, airport crewmembers, aircraft maintenance technicians and supervisors in the First State.Avelo Communications Manager Courtney Goff declined to comment on the DRBA capital improvement program, but did note that any improvements to the terminal would create a better experience for their customers that travel through ILG.“As for air service, we’re always working with the airport and community to see what good fit with demand for the area and growing awareness of ILG and Avelo,” Goff said.DRBA and Avelo are set to celebrate a year of service out of Wilmington on Feb. 1.
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