ILM Incorporates $ 7 Million In Baggage Claim Upgrades In Multi-Year Expansion Project

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Wilmington International Airport has added a $ 7 million project to its three-phase terminal expansion. (Port City Daily / Alexandria Sands Williams)

WILMINGTON – With additional capital at its disposal, Wilmington International Airport (ILM) added another element to its terminal expansion plan, bringing the total cost to $ 68 million. When completed in 2022, the entire company will grow the ILM terminal by 75%.

Last month, the airport’s board of directors unanimously approved a $ 7 million grant to renovate and expand ILM’s baggage claim area. When the project was put out to tender three years ago, that part – initially estimated at $ 5.4 million, according to the Wilmington Business Journal – was cut due to financial constraints. Following recent awards from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the airport now has the capital to support it.

Local construction company Monteith, which oversaw the entire terminal expansion, will also handle baggage claim. Construction is expected to begin this month and be completed gradually over the next 18 months.

“The existing baggage claim systems are undersized for the current number of travelers and the equipment is at the end of its useful life,” said ILM’s facilities manager, Granseur Dick. “The new devices will provide the capacity needed to meet the expected growth and increased redundancy. “

This includes the addition of approximately 8,000 square feet of the bag receiving area at the ramp level and the replacement of two existing grieving devices with larger, modernized equipment.

Crews kicked off the airport’s expansion plan in 2018 after the NC General Assembly jump kicked off the project with $ 11.8 million. The first two phases were completed in the summer of 2020. The third phase began in the fall of 2020 and should be completed by December 2022.

Currently, construction crews are constructing a new 78,000 square foot lobby, adding two doors, including 10,300 square feet of airline seating and lavatory areas, and expanding the TSA checkpoint.

According to Erin McNally, spokesperson for ILM, the addition of additional doors will allow potential new airlines to enter and give existing airlines an opportunity to expand.

This last phase of the work was the subject of two separate contracts. The first contract is 96% complete and includes the new entrance to the new hall, improved seating areas, two new passenger boarding bridges and a concession area. Originally slated to debut this month, the opening has instead been moved to February 2022.

“Airlines nationwide have a moratorium on making no moves in any situation during peak vacations, so there is hands-on experience for customers,” said ILM facilities manager Granseur Dick. .

However, vacationers will encounter improved amenities. The ILM ticket hall added 15,000 square feet of space for flight operations and passengers. A renovated washroom and temporary hallway opened on Thanksgiving week, “allowing travelers to walk in and see a glimpse of the soon to be opened lobby and front door,” McNally said.

This new passenger access route will direct travelers from TSA control to the lobby.

Demolition of the existing connector will begin in a few weeks, with further Phase Three upgrades expected to continue over the coming year. This includes upgrading the existing hall to match the overall look of the new build, as well as building another new gate and incorporating more concessions. A fourth gate, currently owned by American Airlines, will be replaced with a passenger gangway belonging to the airport.

The total cost of phase three is approximately $ 56 million, including the recently approved $ 7 million baggage claim portion.

In total, ILM received $ 35.5 million under the federal airport improvement program and $ 10 million in state aviation funding. It allocated $ 10 million in local funds, which include passenger installation fees, a loan from New Hanover County, and airport capital reserves.

A portion of the federal funds were allocated to ILM in August with a $ 16 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It was part of the $ 766 million the FAA invested to build safer, more sustainable airports nationwide.

Part of the stipulations of the FAA grant were to ensure ADA compliance throughout the airport, but ILM does not currently have any non-compliant facilities. Dick said that when completed, the airport would in fact exceed ADA minimums.

To support the infrastructure needed to access the new gates, construction on the air carrier’s apron – where planes park for passenger boarding and refueling – will add 16,000 square meters, with proposed completion in June 2022. The FAA awarded ILM in September an additional $ 349,000 for this project. It also received $ 500,000 under the NCDOT State Transportation Improvement Program for its funding. Estimated at over $ 5 million, the last time traffic space was added to ILM was in 1989.

Despite ongoing renovations, airport traffic has not slowed down in 2021. As of October 31, ILM represented 82% of the number of pre-Covid passengers. July and October exceeded the number of passengers served in 2019, which was a record year for the airport.

“We attribute the positive passenger numbers to the availability of vaccines and the fact that individuals feel increased comfort to travel coupled with pent-up travel demand,” McNally said.

In fact, July 2021 traffic at ILM was the second highest among comparable markets, behind San Juan Airport. The nationwide average passenger throughput for the top 30 U.S. airports in July was 80% and the ILM was 110%.


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