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City Set To Consider $50,000 In Funds For ILM's Service With United Airlines

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Jan 8, 2018
ILM officials are working on gathering up funds for a match of a federal grant awarded in 2014, that helped bring United Airlines to Wilmington. (Photo courtesy of United Airlines)
The city’s match to federal grant funds, which has helped the Wilmington International Airport (ILM) land its third carrier, is set to be considered by the Wilmington City Council at its meeting Tuesday night.

Council will consider a resolution for the authorization of $50,000 pledged by the city in 2013, in its match of a federal grant for the airport, according to city documents. The item is marked on council's consent agenda along with a presentation by ILM Airport Director Julie Wilsey.

Council’s resolution, with approval, is set to authorize $50,000 of the $100,000 budgeted in the Fiscal Year 2017-18 adopted budget from the city's economic miscellaneous incentives money.

The city pledged support by resolution of ILM’s efforts to apply for a grant with the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). ILM applied for the Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASDP) Grant with the USDOT in 2013 and was awarded $750,000 in January 2014.

ILM was also able to gather more than $200,000 from community contributions, for a total of more than $950,000 in funds. ILM has also offered to waive landing fees and rent, making the total package about $1.2 million, according to city documents.

Airport leaders attribute the funds to securing United Airlines, now ILM’s third carrier, along with nonstop flights to Chicago O’Hare (ORD) and Dulles/Washington DC (IAD), slated to begin in April. The flights were part of United Arline’s service expansion in five U.S. hubs. Airport officials made the announcement in November

The airline is utilizing two 50-seat regional jets for the two destinations, which are being offered year-round.

Since the airline service announcement, Wilsey said she has been able to approach those with local commitments to ready revenues for United Airlines. The city of Wilmington is the last source of funds to gather for the airline's revenue guarantee, she said.

"Starting in mid-May, we will have to make good on our revenue guarantee," Wilsey said. 

The revenue guarantee allows funds for the new carrier for startup costs and other costs associated with bringing a new line into Wilmington so that the airlines can remain profitable or at least break even, she said.

United Airline officials have visited the airport several times since the approval of its agreement with ILM and are currently preparing for the new service at ILM, including training local employees, officials said.

United will be starting a station at ILM, Wilsey said, adding that the change will mean new jobs for the area, that the airline will be either hiring as a subcontractor or through its own hiring processes. Though Wilsey did not know how many employees the new carrier is needing, she said jobs would include positions for ticket agents and ground handlers.
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