ILM terminal expansion could bring new options for travelers

Groundbreaking ceremony at ILM

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Travelers coming in and out of Wilmington International Airport (ILM) will soon see improvements to the airport, and potentially more travel options.

City, county, state, and airport leaders marked phase 2 of the terminal expansion project with a groundbreaking ceremony Monday.

The terminal expansion project is comprised of three construction phases, totaling approximately $53 million.

ILM has concluded phase 1 of the project, which included improvements to the TSA baggage and handling system for checked luggage.

Phase 2 will include the expansion of the airline ticket lobby, ticket counters. This additional space will allow ILM to have room for a potential fourth airline in the future. Phase two will add approximately 15,000 square feet of new space.

“This does not directly mean more routes or new routes or new airlines, what it does do is add room for new capacity for new airlines to come in and for airlines that are already here to add routes. So this could potentially mean we get some of those new routes and those new airlines and lower fares,” said Granseur Dick, director of planning and development ILM.

With these changes, airport authorities say passengers will be able to get through TSA more quickly, get on aircraft more quickly, and have more room inside the terminal while waiting to depart.

“This project will add new amenities for the passengers. Once this phase is done, we will have additional room in the ticket wing, so as you come in and arrive you’ll have more room to check your luggage, to purchase tickets. But the next phase will also mean new space for restaurants and concessions. That could be anything from new bars to cafes to commercial retail,” Dick said.

Part 2 of the expansion project is expected to cost $10 million and take a year and a half to complete.

Phase 3 will begin in November.

“This project is going to take a number of years to complete. As you come through we’re going to be in a construction project for the next couple of years. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure passengers are impacted as little as possible as they travel through here and we’re doing our best to keep everything quiet and behind the scenes,” Dick said.

Airport Director Julie Wilsey said the airport has been growing for years and hopes these improvements will help the airport grow even more.

“As the airport grows and we did over 930,000 passengers last year. We think in the next couple years we’ll hit the million passenger mark and that really is a different level for airports and we think that will organically bring other opportunities for this area,” Wilsey said.

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