WILMINGTON – A new flight is headed to ILM for summertime travelers. Wilmington passengers will be able to make their way to Beantown in just a few hours flat thanks to a new route coming from American Airlines in partnership with JetBlue.
The direct flights will be offered Jun. 5 through Aug. 14 out of Wilmington International Airport (ILM) to Boston Logan International Airport (BOS). Tickets went on sale Monday, and run anywhere from $250 for coach to $480 or so for first class through American’s website.
Response from the community has been positive, according to ILM’s airport director, Julie Wilsey.
“Boston has a lot of demand for both business and leisure travelers,” Wilsey wrote in an email. “We hope the flight will lead to a daily flight, eventually growing to a year-round destination.”
The seasonal course is part of American Airlines’ and JetBlue’s promise to offer better travel options to and from Boston and New York.
“Our alliance with American opens the door for JetBlue to successfully enter into new markets, introducing more choices and our award-winning service and low fares to more customers,” said Scott Laurence, head of revenue and planning at JetBlue. “The alliance is also essential to getting our planes back in the air profitably and crewmembers working again.”
Come spring, travelers who utilize American’s AAdvantage and JetBlue’s True Blue programs will be able to earn miles or points on either carrier. In the near future, they will be able to interchange their value at both companies as well.
This month the major airlines announced 18 new routes, all launching in June. Adding a Boston flight seemed natural, according to American Airlines, since it’s “an underserved market in Wilmington.”
“Thanks to our alliance with JetBlue, we saw an opportunity for customers to travel between the two cities more efficiently,” a spokesperson said.
It’s common for airline partners to schedule nonstop flights in the summer, according to Wilsey. Last year, though, was unlike any other. Despite a recent report from the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Division of Aviation showing the airport’s job creation and economic impacts were on the rise in 2019, numbers faltered in 2020. Due to the pandemic and travel restrictions, passenger traffic dropped by more than half.
“The Covid-19 pandemic adds a lot of uncertainty to whether or not we will see summer nonstop flights,” Wilsey continued. “The BOS announcement was a good sign, and we hope it starts a trend.”
Ticket sales of the flights go straight to the airline. Yet, the airport will generate additional revenue from purchases in concessions and parking.
“We are 100% credit/debit card in all of the parking lots to simplify the payment process,” Wilsey said.
ILM is undergoing a terminal expansion, which is currently in Phase 3. This includes expanded concessions with a new restaurant and bar to offer passengers more options in food and beverage. The new concessions will be up and running by the end of this year, according to Wilsey.
“For now, we still have the existing coffee shop, bar and restaurant open,” she said.
Construction is slated to wrap on the terminal expansion by winter 2022.
Currently, ILM offers direct flights to Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago O’Hare, Dallas Fort Worth, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Washington Dulles.
“This is the first step to delivering the best customer proposition with the biggest network in New York and Boston,” Vasu Raja, American’s chief revenue officer, said in a press release. “In the months ahead, we’ll continue to create a seamless experience that’s easy for our customers, supports our communities and leads to more growth for our team.”
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