Wednesday, March 22, 2023

ILM executive director gets voted out by airport board

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the New Hanover County Airport Authority decided to end the employment contract of ILM’s current director, Julie Wilsey.

The Wilmington Business Journal reported the board’s head chair, Donna Girardot, declined to comment on the reasoning behind the termination, but said Wilsey has 30 days to finish out her contract.

Wilsey was hired in 2015, after having worked at ILM since 1999. The authority board did a national search for then-outgoing director Jon Rosborough, but told the StarNews in 2015, “[Wilsey] had everything we needed, plus the inside perspective, plus training with Jon, and we’re very happy,” according to then-board chairman John Perritt. “And because she knows our vision and our long-term plans for the airport, she has the beauty of not having to start out behind the eight ball.”

Under Wilsey’s watch, the airport experienced a banner year in 2019 with an almost $500 million bump in economic growth, from $1.752 billion to $2.247 billion. 

It also has been undergoing a $61 million renovation, which will include new gates and renovated ticket areas, another checkpoint lane and more concessions, as well as updates to its outbound baggage for its airline partners.

Growth has expanded in recent years into ILM’s business partners, specifically with the All American Aviation Services’ flight school opening and more aircraft activity, plus the addition of a new hangar and tenants in the ILM Business Park.

After experiencing a severe decline in travel through the pandemic, ILM is bouncing back by adding summertime flights and already is looking to expand nonstop service.

In recent months, the airport has gained attention from an annoyed public for increased military action. ILM accepts Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grants, which means military can use its runways and taxiways, and is exempt from noise and height restrictions.

Wilsey told Port City Daily in April, “The military jets use the approach to ILM as training for approaching civilian fields as they would in forward deployed areas.”

RELATED: ‘IT’S THE SOUND OF FREEDOM’: Here’s why military aircraft love Wilmington airspace

In addition to Girardot, the New Hanover County Airport Authority Board is made up of Harry Stovall III, F. Spruill Thompson, Thomas Wolfe, W. Lee Williams, Julia Olson-Boseman, and Nick Rhodes Jr. Board members are voted on by the county commissioners, and serve no more than four consecutive years and cannot be reappointed until two years after their last term.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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