The Wilmington International Airport (ILM) will soon get a new passenger boarding bridge, as it prepares for United Airlines, the airport's newest carrier that's set to begin service in the Port City early next month.
The new passenger boarding bridge, or jet bridge, was recently purchased for nearly $900,000 using the first of the $12 million
allocated to ILM – $6 million each for fiscal years 2017-18 and 2018-19 – in the state budget last year.
The $900,000 to replace an existing jet bridge with a new one, allocated through a grant agreement approved by the New Hanover County Airport Authority in early February, covers the complete cost of the project, including installation.
The new jet bridge is expected to arrive in early May and will be at ILM’s Gate 1
, which will soon be occupied by United Airlines when the carrier begins non-stop flights
to Chicago O'Hare (ORD) and Dulles/Washington DC (IAD) airports April 9.
“The current jet bridge is not functional at this time. So, now is a good time to update since [the gate] is getting a new airline,” Broughton said.
“United is currently remodeling to their specs as we speak,” Broughton said of the airline's preparations for service.
The airline has been conducting work over the past month to remodel the counter areas and inside the concourse area around Gate 1. United will use a jet bridge on an adjacent gate until the Gate 1 bridge is operational, Broughton said.
When service begins, United Airlines will run two flights a day for each destination using 50-seat regional jets.
With the purchase of the new jet bridge, ILM has about $11 million left from the state funds. The remaining funds will be used for the airport's terminal expansion, which is currently in the design phase. Broughton said the airport hopes to begin the first portion of the expansion by the end of the year.
Nearly $2 million was recently awarded to Talbert & Bright Inc.
, a Wilmington design firm, through a design contract for the airport’s first phase of improvements. The total terminal expansion project has been divided up into three phases
and includes new construction and upgrades to the existing terminal.