The Wilmington International Airport had another bump in passengers in June, indicating a return to some normal travel following last year's dip in activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of just over 99,400 passengers traveled in and out of the Wilmington International Airport (ILM) in June, up 368% from the more than 21,200 travelers the previous June, according to the most recent statistics released on ILM's website.
But while the latest June totals are still slightly below the 100,300 total travelers in June 2019, airport officials said ILM's traffic has recovered.
"We are certainly excited to see the positive trend in travel returning to pre-pandemic levels and look forward to a full return of business travel as well," said Gary Broughton, ILM's interim airport director, in an email Monday.
Comparing 2021 to 2019, the number of inbound travelers was slightly higher, at just over 50,900 this June versus the nearly 50,100 that same month in 2019. Outbound travelers were lower this June, at just over 48,500 compared to the more than 50,200 that flew out of ILM in June 2019.
The June totals also represent the most travelers seen in a month at ILM this year.
Despite the pandemic, however, work has continued on ILM's $61 million terminal expansion and renovation projects. The project is on track to be completed by the end of 2022.
But ILM officials look to add to the terminal project, the additions hinging on future federal grant approvals, said Granseur Dick, ILM's facilities director.
The airport authority has approved a design contract with Talbert & Bright at a cost of $109,320, to draw up renovation plans, updating ILM's existing hold room, or airline seating areas, and rental car lobby counters.
The renovations could take place through a contract change order with ILM's current terminal expansion and renovations contractor, Monteith Construction Corp., to update the appearance in these areas, according to airport documents.
"Everything down there now is from the early 2000s, roughly, so we would bring all of that up to be consistent with the rest of the project," Dick said.
Funding for construction is still needed, Dick said. The work was taken out of the original project to bring costs down, he said.
The airport is also looking at possibly adding to the baggage claim area, on top of its apron expansion, or expansion of its aircraft parking area, which went out to bid
and closed this month, he said.
"The FAA discretionary funding process planned for two grants (pending funding availability) to complete funding of the terminal expansion including bag claim and also the apron expansion," Dick said in an email. "We have not yet received these grants, but remain hopeful that they are coming this FAA funding season."
"Their award would free up airport reserves to be used for the renovation of the existing hold room," he added. "The Talbert & Bright action was approved to design and permit the renovations in the event all available grant monies are received and airport reserves become available for construction of the renovations."