Airlines at the Wilmington International Airport are anticipating a boost in their flight schedules this summer.
American Airlines officials recently said they expect to add more flights at ILM in July.
The increase in connections at the local airport is part of an overall restoration of some domestic service in July in general, officials said in an email.
As airlines begin to make adjustments to their schedules, ILM officials are also preparing to receive more passenger traffic.
"ILM and the partner airlines, we have all been working through this time and we are looking forward to having a more normal schedule and more passengers going through the terminal," said Julie Wilsey, ILM's airport director. "It is very positive that we have so many additional seats in the market for July and we think that when the travelers return, that the airlines will continue to add more seats to our market."
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, airlines have been reducing capacity and flights across the board, due to the impact the virus has had on air travel and the overall airline industry worldwide.
American Airlines plans to increase nonstop flights to Charlotte Douglas International Airport from 100 flights per month in May to 154 flights in July; to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport from 30 flights per month in May to 56 flights per month in July; and to Philadelphia International Airport from 40 flights per month in May to 60 flights per month in July.
The airline is resuming nonstop service to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport with 25 flights, LaGuardia Airport to 17 flights, and to Chicago O'Hare International Airport to 25 flights, per month in July.
An American seasonal nonstop flight originally planned to start at ILM in May to Boston Logan International Airport will not take place for the summer season as planned, officials said previously.
Delta Air Lines officials said they are also adding some additional flight frequency over the course of the summer between Wilmington and its Atlanta hub. That includes adding a flight in July for a total of three flights each way, and in August, adding four more flights for a total of six each way.
This is the only flight Delta is operating at ILM at this time, an official said in an email.
“Delta continues to evaluate its summer schedule and is adjusting as needed based on customer demand, government travel directives and CDC guidelines," a Delta official said in an email.
Delta has previously had a flight to New York City prior to the pandemic.
The airlines' schedules are tentative and subject to changes, officials said.
Questions to United Airlines about its future flight schedule at ILM were not returned as of press time.
The airport has continued to employ its full workforce of 47 people since March to keep the facility operating, she said.
"We always maintained our employee workforce and our regular schedules. ILM is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So we continue to be open. We did make some different job assignments during the slower periods to catch up on maintenance and some things that we didn't really have a chance to do when we were busy," Wilsey said.
Wilsey said the airport staff is prepared to "resume full activities and passenger loads."
Staff members are wearing masks, and the airport has also enhanced safety measures and protocols
On Saturday, the hourly and daily parking lots reopened with new striping. The parking lots are operating with credit/debit cards only, Wilsey said. In the short time the lots have been open, people are starting to use them, she said.
"People are coming back to travel. And we are doing everything we can to get back in the groove and we're ready," Wilsey said, adding that with the additional flights in July, "we're hoping to be back on track."
Also, the airport's contractors in the terminal expansion project ramped up work during the air travel slowdown. In July, contract two in the three-part project will be coming to a close, Wilsey said.
"So the passengers will see the new ticket counters by the beginning of July and the new terrazzo floors in the ticketing area will be uncovered and polished," she said.
Also in July, the airport's third TSA checkpoint project is anticipated to be complete and open to accommodate peak passenger hours in the morning.
The airport's third contract in the terminal expansion, which started in the spring to add space to the airport's terminal, is still ongoing and is slated for completion in late 2022 or early 2023, she said.
"It's a long-term project, but it's taking great shape right now," Wilsey said.