Saturday, February 4, 2023

Twice-daily nonstop flights to Newark coming to ILM in February

Flights between Wilmington and Newark will be offered on United’s CRJ-550, a 50-seat plane with first class seats. (Port City Daily/Courtesy ILM, United Airlines)

WILMINGTON — United Airlines will launch nonstop flights between Wilmington International Airport (ILM) and Newark Liberty International Airport starting February 11, according to ILM.

“Our community has long desired nonstop service to Newark for many years and we are thankful that United has chosen to provide this service,” interim airport director Gary Broughton said in a press release. “The New York area is a top market for ILM, inbound and outbound, and we look forward to seeing strong community support for this new route.”

The flights will run twice daily on the CJR-550, “the world’s first 50-seat regional aircraft designed to offer first class seats and amenities” (10 first class seats, 20 economy plus, 20 economy).

ILM, the fifth-largest airport in the state, hosted more than one million passengers in 2019 via American Airlines, Delta and United. 

“These new routes will connect fliers from Wilmington to one of United’s busiest international hubs, making it easier not only to travel to more than 50 cities in the U.S., but also opening up access to exciting destinations in Europe, Africa and beyond,” United Airlines executive Ankit Gupta said in the press release.

The announcement is one of several changes the airport has made in recent months. Last week the New Hanover County Airport Authority named Jeffrey Bourk the airport’s newest director. Bourk served as the executive director of Branson Airport in Missouri for 14 years and was given a three-year contract at ILM via the board’s unanimous vote.

READ MORE: ILM names new airport director, nearly 5 months after former leader’s dismissal

Bourk will take over his new post at the beginning of January 2022. He was hired to replace Julie Wilsey, who was unexpectedly terminated in June after the airport authority voted unanimously to buy her out of her contract. 

ILM is also in the midst of a $61-million terminal expansion project that will add four new gates and grow the terminal facility by 75%. The third phase, which requires government money from all levels to complete, will overhaul the TSA checkpoint and baggage claim areas. 

The new United flights heading to Newark can be purchased on the airline’s website.

After the pandemic ravaged the passenger throughput at ILM during 2020, airport officials signaled that inbound seats on planes were up during August 2021 compared to the same month two years prior. Enplanements were also approaching pre-pandemic levels this summer. 

READ MORE: Officials signal a rebound at Wilmington International Airport

Airport officials also reported in August an apparent evolution in the number of inbound flights from different airports. While flights coming from Charlotte have not shown robust growth when comparing 2019 and 2021, Dallas Fort Worth and Reagan National Airport have both been intensifying their excursions to ILM. 

In a press release last week, Bourk, the incoming director, said: “I look forward to creating and implementing strategic air service development and business park plans ensuring ILM contributes the maximum economic impact to the region, bringing in additional flights, and ensuring our business operations align with sustainable growth to provide high-quality service for residents and visitors.”

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