ILM director shares airport growth data with UNCW research community

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Numbers are taking off as more passengers are taking flight from Wilmington International Airport.

After a record-breaking year at ILM, Airport Director Jeff Bourk says they are working to stay ahead of the growth.

For example, they’re adding hundreds of new parking spaces. While the lots get full during peak times, they are not desperate for additional space on a daily basis. However, Bourk explains they want to have them ready as the airport expands.

“We need to be able to unconstrain growth at the airport for the airlines as they need to grow,” Bourk said. “We need to be out there making the business case to those airlines about why they need to be at ILM or expand at ILM. We’re doing that constantly with our team.”

With two budget airlines announced last year and American, Delta, and United Airlines beginning to use larger planes, Bourk says passengers are seeing lower costs and more nonstop flight options than ever at ILM.

“At this time one year ago, ILM had nine nonstops, we now have 14 nonstops,” he said. “If you’re sitting here contemplating a trip to Fort Lauderdale and thinking, ‘well it’d be cheaper if I drive to Myrtle Beach and get on Spirit,’ well it’s not anymore. You can hop on a flight on Avelo, be in Fort Lauderdale in two hours and it’s going to cost you $59.”

Bourk shared the latest on the airport’s growth to UNCW’s International Trade and Exchange Research Community. The group was created by History Professor Mark Spaulding and Economics Professor Pete Schumann in 2021 to create synergy between different disciplines studying the topic.

The trade and exchange group is made up of researchers from the Cameron School of Business as well as those from the College of Arts and Sciences.

“People are making research presentations and opening themselves up to interdisciplinary input regarding their data, findings, and what they might do next,” Spaulding said.

As for what’s next at ILM, Bourk says it’s only up from here.

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