Passenger traffic at ILM set a new record in 2016. (Photo by Vince Winkel)
The friendly skies around Wilmington International Airport had a very good year.
Final figures released this week from the airport show that ILM served 817,896 passengers in 2016, setting a new record. When compared to 2015, passenger enplanements were up 6.6 percent (25,365) and deplanements were up 5.9 percent (22,722), year over year.
Total passengers served in 2015 was 769,809.
The prior record for total passengers was in 2010, when ILM served 799,710 passengers.
The increase in passenger traffic could bode well for ILM, in securing even more flights from its two commercial air carriers, Delta and American Airlines.
Airlines evaluate each community on passenger and revenue statistics and utilize this information when evaluating the need for larger airplanes or additional flights.
“American and Delta Airlines recognized the strong market
in the greater Wilmington area and they added larger aircraft with more seats to carry additional passengers to and from ILM,” said airport director Julie Wilsey in a news release. “The increased seat capacity was timely, aligning well with statistics that show the tri-county area is one of the fastest growing regions in the country and local tourism is at an all-time high.”
The most recent economic impact study, conducted by the NC Department of Transportation’s Division of Aviation, indicated ILM had a $1.6 billion impact on the region. With the increase in passengers in 2016, ILM anticipates the next report by the NCDOT will show Wilmington International Airport’s economic impact on the region is greater than $1.6 billion.
“ILM thanks our airline partners, American and Delta, as well as all the employees who are instrumental in our accomplishment,” said New Hanover County airport authority chairman Thomas Wolfe in a news release. “We also acknowledge the travelers in our community who use the local airport and thank them for their loyal support. We look forward to another great year in 2017.”