More than a thousand passengers expected to travel through ILM on peak holiday travel days

Elly Cosgrove reports from the Wilmington International Airport
Published: Dec. 23, 2021 at 9:28 AM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - It’s that time of year again: holiday travel is heating up and more people are expected to hit the road and the runway compared to last year. AAA predicts 100 million people will drive and more than 6 million will fly between Dec. 23 and Jan 2.

Wilmington International Airport officials say they expect to see more than 1,000 passengers on peak travel days.

“We anticipate our peak travel days to be a couple, few days before Christmas so including [Wednesday] and then the days between Christmas and New Years Eve,” said Erin McNally, marketing specialist at Wilmington International Airport. “We’ll probably see over a thousand passengers on those peak travel days as well as about 21 flights at ILM.”

Typically the mornings are busier “during the fleet launch when a lot of those early flights are coming and going,” McNally said.

Now that the Omicron variant is the dominant strain of covid-19 in the U.S., some passengers said they considered cancelling their travel plans. Others were not as worried.

McNally said they are “committed to continuing our enhanced safety and sanitation cleaning practices.”

All the safety measures you are used to seeing at the airport are still in place: hand sanitizing stations, signs asking passengers to social distance and signs asking people to mask up.

Constance Hubbell is visiting Wilmington from Boston. She said that relatives from all over the country are flying in.

“We’re all, you know, taking the right precautions. Some of our family members did decide not to travel though they were a little bit nervous about this new variant and I don’t blame them,” Hubbell said. “I was a little bit paranoid this morning when leaving to go to the airport, but I thought, ‘if I double mask and I’ve been triple vaxxed, which I have, then I just want to enjoy my family this year.’ Last year at Christmas it was terribly depressing to be sitting at home and not being able to see all of our family members it was just horrible.”

Heading into the new year, McNally said that they are seeing a positive trend in the airport’s passenger numbers.

ILM’s passenger recovery numbers are actually outperforming other airports in North Carolina and airports across the country, according to McNally.

“In 2021 we saw positive trends with our passenger numbers as of November 30th we’ve served nearly 830,000 passengers, so compared to 2019, which was a record breaking year for us here at the airport, that’s about 84% of our 2019 levels,” McNally said. “We are really pleased about our passenger recovery numbers have actually outperformed other airports in North Carolina as well as across the country as a whole.”

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