The Wilmington International Airport has experienced a 96% decrease in its April travelers, according to the airport's passenger statistics released this week. And airline officials say that a new summertime nonstop route planned to start this month to Boston has been pulled.
ILM had just over 3,800 passengers flying in and out of the airport in April, a significant decrease from the number of travelers last April, which saw nearly 89,500 passengers total.
The pattern continued from the 47% year-over-year decrease in travelers ILM had in March
. The latest activity report “directly correlates with COVID-19 flight impacts,” according to ILM’s COVID-19 information online
Attempts to reach airport leaders about the numbers and impacts to overall operations and revenue at ILM were not immediately successful Friday.
Departures in April
had a little more than 1,800 passengers, compared to April 2019, which had just over 45,300 passengers. And arrivals in April were also low, with nearly 2,000 passengers flying in, compared to the nearly 44,200 passengers who arrived in Wilmington last April.
“ILM’s airport statistics are consistent with nationwide reports,” officials said on the airport's COVID-19 website.
As fewer travelers pass through the airport, fewer flights are taking place. And one new nonstop flight to Boston, previously anticipated for this summer, has been pulled altogether.
ILM has been notified by its three commercial carrier airlines – American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines – of schedule changes for flights in May.
Several flights have been temporarily suspended with a goal to resume in the future, according to an April 28 notice.
American Airlines suspended service to airports in Washington, D.C., Chicago and Boston, while reducing daily service to Charlotte and Dallas-Fort Worth airports, as well as reducing the frequency of service to Philadelphia, according to ILM's notice.
Due to the impact of COVID-19, however, the Saturday nonstop service from ILM to Boston Logan International Airport "will not operate this summer season," American Airlines officials said in an email Friday.
American’s Boston flight was the latest nonstop addition to ILM’s list previously announced earlier this year
and – before the pandemic and its effect on the airline industry – was originally anticipated to begin May 9 and run through Aug. 15.
When asked about its other nonstop flights, including those to Chicago and Washington, D.C., an American Airlines official wrote: "We continue to make changes to our schedule. But don’t have any other details to provide at this time."
In its list, ILM also announced that Delta has reduced its daily service to Atlanta, and United Airlines reduced its daily service to Washington-Dulles International Airport.
Flight schedules just after noon Friday, listed seven inbound flights among its commercial airlines, include those from Charlotte, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Dallas and Washington (Washington-Dulles International Airport). There were five outbound flights for airports in Charlotte, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
Airlines are requiring passengers to wear masks while traveling. The airport asks travelers to reach out to airlines directly about other flight-related information and protective measures, such as the face-covering requirements, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
American Airlines, in a late April news release, said it's requiring all customers traveling to wear a mask, or face cover, while onboard the aircraft as of May 11.
ILM is asking travelers to wear face coverings or masks at the airport effective Friday. ILM employees are also wearing face masks or coverings.
The airport is, however, preparing for “the return of passengers and a busy summer travel season,” stated a post to its website.
“Over the past several weeks, leaders of NC commercial airports, including the ILM Airport Director, have held weekly meetings to collaborate and share best practices to address COVID-19," ILM officials stated on the COVID-19 information website. "Through these communications, airport leaders have learned from one another and gained additional insight into best practices to minimize the spread of germs and viruses; ensuring the highest level of safety for the flying public. ILM will continue to incorporate best practices and implement enhanced safety measures."
Recently, ILM was deemed eligible for more than $19.8 million in federal funding
through the CARES Act to help offset the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on air travel and the industry, according to an announcement in April. At the time, ILM was researching the details and awaiting the FAA to release the grant application.