The Wilmington International Airport is getting two new routes to major cities.
United Airlines will offer two new non-stop routes between ILM and Chicago O’Hare (ORD) and between ILM and Dulles/Washington DC (IAD), according to a news release. The new daily non-stop flights will begin April 9, 2018.
There will be two flights a day between ILM and Washington-Dulles and between ILM and Chicago O’Hare. United Airways is using two 50-seat regional jets for the two destinations, for a total of 200 new seats in and 200 out daily, said Gary Broughton, deputy director at ILM.
The new service was made possible with a federal grant and support from the community, Broughton said.
The airport applied for a Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASDP) Grant with the U.S. Department of transportation in 2013 and awarded $750,000 in January 2014.
The grant required an additional local match of $200,000 for a total of $950,000 in funds for the carrier. The additional funds came from the city, county and private businesses, he said. Some of it was pledged and others came through in-kind services as well as letters of support from the community for ILM flights to Chicago and D.C.
“It was a community effort,” Broughton said. “It really was the community getting behind us.”
The grant funds allow for a minimum revenue guarantee for United, which means the airline has funds for startup cost and other revenues associated with bringing a new line into Wilmington. If revenues don’t meet the bottom line for running the service, Broughton said United could use the grant funds to meet costs.
“We don’t want them to lose money on this service. We want them to at least break even,” Broughton said. “But what we're hoping for is that United does do good, and increases services out of here [in the future].”
United Airlines will use available gate space and ticket counters at ILM. The added flights will not impact service or security at the airport, Broughton said.
“Right now … with four flights a day, there should not be issues at all," he said.
These non-stop routes, to two of United’s hub cities, will benefit a broad segment of the traveling public, including business and higher education leaders as well as families and vacationers, airport officials said.
Chicago O’Hare is consistently ranked as a top destination for those that fly out of ILM, most recently ranking No. 5. Washington-Dulles is also an international gateway.
The flights include 80 connecting markets beyond Chicago O’Hare, including western destinations such as Honolulu, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. It also connects 66 markets beyond Washington-Dulles, including international markets such as Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London and Paris.
“To solidify a new carrier as well as two new routes to hub cities is extremely exciting. We are very appreciative of our community partners for their steadfastness and feel confident that Wilmington is committed and ready to support the service,” said Julie Wilsey, ILM director.
“We are thrilled to add Wilmington to our global route network and we look forward to making United the first choice for customers traveling from Chicago and our Washington, D.C. hubs,” Grant Whitney, United’s vice president of domestic network planning, said in the release. “Our new flights enable customers to make convenient connections to many more United destinations beyond our Chicago and Washington-Dulles hubs.”
“It is important to note that we now have three out of the four largest carriers in the country,” Broughton said.
Along with the new addition of United Airlines, ILM also services Delta and American Airlines.