The process by which ILM recruits new airlines and non-stop cities is called Air Service Development (ASD). ADS is a key component of ILM’s mission and in simplest terms, it consists of matching commercial air service availability to ILM’s passenger needs. As a small hub airport, ILM is the 4th busiest airport in NC, behind Charlotte (CLT), Raleigh-Durham (RDU), and Piedmont Triad in Greensboro (GSO). Serving over 800,000 passengers per year, our passenger mix consists of 2/3 business travelers and 1/3 leisure. These statistics play a very important role in ILM’s Air Service Development program, which consists of the following 5 steps:
1. Identify the passenger’s needs and their top destinations
2. Match said needs with quality air carriers, while providing all jet service to top destinations and competitive pricing to the extent of our ability
3. Maintain current commercial air service
4. Obtain new service either with current carriers or new air carriers
5. Maintain and increase our passenger base by offering excellent customer service in a hassle-free travel environment
So, how do we go about recruiting new airlines or non-stop cities? The process usually starts by meeting with commercial air carriers to generate interest in ILM and the Wilmington community. In addition, these airlines like to see statistics, as aforementioned, regarding the current passenger profile and airport status. Commercial airlines choose new cities for air service based on the existing demand that ILM has on the prospective service. Basically, if United Airlines was looking to serve Wilmington with a non-stop flight to Chicago, they would want to know how many people are currently flying to Chicago through our existing airlines. Through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), we obtain and analyze the statistics, and then provide air carriers with a comprehensive analysis demonstrating the need and projected revenue if service was implemented.
Another key component of Air Service Development that many are not aware of is fleet economics. For ILM to be successful in recruiting a new air carrier to serve our region, that airline must remove service from another airport due to capacity discipline. Due to the nature of the commercial air industry, new aircraft are not being added to the existing fleet. The airlines are more concerned with upgrading existing equipment and replacing smaller planes with larger ones. In addition to fleet economics, air carriers are currently focusing on consolidation (mergers); increasing revenue through bottom line management; and globalization. It is for these reasons that recruiting new service can be difficult. In order for ILM to gain, often times another airport must lose.
Today’s air transportation system is shrinking and is extremely competitive. Twenty-five years ago, there were twenty-one mainline carriers providing air service to 450 commercial service airports. Today, there are only 8 mainline carriers that provide service to these 450 airports. Where there once were many options, there is now fierce competition. As a passenger, however, you can help! The more people who choose to fly ILM over other surrounding airports, the more data we can provide the airlines that supports a demand for new service. As our community continues to grow, so does the need for commercial air service and ILM is continually working to provide for the needs of our passengers!
Jon Rosborough became director of the Wilmington International Airport (ILM) in November of 1998. As the fourth largest airport in North Carolina, ILM serves over 800,000 passengers annually and offers service on both Delta Airlines and US Airways/American Airlines, ILM services 4 non-stop hubs which allow for convenient domestic and international travel. ILM prides itself on offering award winning customer service and convenience with multiple flight options, easy security screening, and close parking. For more information about ILM, please visit www.flyILM.com, like us on Facebook:www.facebook.com/flyilm, or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ILMairport.
Emma Dill - Nov 27, 2023
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