WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington International Airport will start to look and feel different over the next few years, as it expands to accommodate more passengers.
As the number of passengers continues to grow, possibly exceeding one million in 2019, the airport must grow, too.
“Where we’re at now, we have three airlines. With this expansion we want to be able to facilitate the addition of a potential fourth airline,” said ILM Planning and Development Director Granseur Dick.
The airport expansion is a four-year project. Dick says the first phase started in October of last year, and the final phase will wrap up in summer of 2022.
Dick says some things might go unnoticed by passengers, but will make them safer. Other changes will be obvious.
“More efficient TSA checkpoints. Once they get through that checkpoint, they’re also going to have additional concessions in the gate area,” Dick said.
Another potential addition to the airport is a 100-room hotel.
“It’s always been in our thinking, but it’s bubbled up to the top now, just because of our growth,” said ILM Business Development Director Carol LeTellier.
“Vacationers who don’t want to pay for the high rate to be on the ocean front, might want to stay at an airport hotel. They can get downtown in six minutes, they can get to the beaches in 20,” LeTellier said.
LeTellier says an airport hotel would be built near the main road entering the airport.
She says it would be beneficial to more than just vacationers.
“I believe that we could handle the overflow when UNCW has its graduation. If we had another hurricane, it might be suitable for emergency rooms,” she said.
LeTellier says a hotel could also be beneficial for airline employees, and would provide jobs to those in the Cape Fear.
She says no bids have been made yet, but they hope to have one built by 2020 or 2021.