Lehigh Valley International Airport

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Lehigh Valley International Airport
Lehigh Valley International Airport Logo.svg
Aerial photo of Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE), 2005
Airport type Public
Owner/Operator Lehigh–Northampton Airport Authority
Serves Lehigh Valley
Location Allentown, Pennsylvania Hanover, Township
Elevation AMSL 393 ft / 120 m
Coordinates 40°39′08.4″N 075°26′25.7″W / 40.652333°N 75.440472°W / 40.652333; -75.440472
Website flylvia.com
ABE is located in Pennsylvania
ABE is located in the US
Location of airport in Pennsylvania / United States
Direction Length Surface
ft m
06/24 7,600 2,316 Asphalt
13/31 5,797 1,767 Asphalt
Aircraft operations 100,048 (2,012)
Based aircraft 117 (2,012)
Total passengers (2014)[1] 582,000
Sources: airport website[2] and FAA[3]

Lehigh Valley International Airport (IATA: ABEICAO: KABEFAA LID: ABE) (formerly Allentown–Bethlehem–Easton International Airport) is a public airport in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. Parts of it are in Catasauqua and Allen Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania. It is 3 miles (5 km) northeast of Allentown, in the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania, the third most-populous metropolitan region in the state (after Philadelphia and Pittsburgh).

It is owned and operated by the Lehigh–Northampton Airport Authority. The number of people using the airport fell by 24.3% from 723,556 in FY2012 to 582,000 in FY2014[4] and the airport has seen steep declines in passenger usage since the early 2000s when annual traffic twice hit levels above 1,000,000 passengers.[5] For 2012 the FAA has categorized ABE airport as a "nonhub"[6] but in previous years the FAA categorized the airport as a "small hub".

The airport is about 75 driving miles from Philadelphia International Airport, 80 driving miles from Newark Liberty International Airport and 55 driving miles from Trenton-Mercer Airport.


Lehigh Valley International Airport opened in 1929 and is one of the very few in the United States of America that serves its community from its original location. Scheduled airline flights began on September 16, 1935 by United Airlines Boeing 247s. The airport hangar served as the passenger terminal; the first terminal building at the airport was built in 1938 as a Works Projects Administration (WPA) project.

During World War II the U. S. Navy V-5 flight training program was conducted at the airport in conjunction with ground training held at Muhlenberg College. In addition, Headquarters of Group 312 of the Civil Air Patrol was at Allentown–Bethlehem Airport. One of its activities was to provide a courier service for cargo defense plants. Allentown CAP pilots also patrolled the Atlantic coastline, and was active in recruiting young men for the air cadet program of the Army Air Force.

By January 1944 work on a new runway was completed and a Class A United States Weather Bureau station had been installed. About 1,000 Naval Aviation Cadets had been trained during 1943, and a large increase in the amount of civilian and military air traffic had occurred. In late July, the War Production Board approved the construction of a second story addition to the administration building. The building housed the Lehigh Aircraft Company, the weather bureau station, the Civil Aeronautic communications station, and the office and waiting room of United Air Lines. In August, the V-5 flight training program ended when the Navy decided to move all flight training to naval air bases under Navy pilots.

In April 1946 the Lehigh Airport Authority was created to own and manage the airport. The October 1946 C&GS diagram shows four runways forming an asterisk: runway 1 was 2680 ft long, 6 was 4000 ft, 9 was 3800 ft and 14 was 3100 ft.

A new passenger terminal began construction in 1948 and was finished in 1950. Allentown–Bethlehem–Easton (ABE) airport, as it was now called, had flights on United, Trans World Airlines since 1947, and Colonial Airlines since 1949–50. DC-4s and DC-6s appeared after runway 6 was extended to 5,000 ft. TWA left in 1967, replaced by Allegheny; Colonial's successor Eastern remained until 1991. Republic DC-9 nonstop flights to Detroit started in 1986; regional partners replaced successor Northwest around 2003, as United's nonstop flights to Chicago had likewise been replaced around 2001. Delta started nonstop flights to Atlanta in 1991 and its partner took over in 2002.

In 1960 Vice President Richard Nixon and Senator John F. Kennedy made campaign stops at ABE.

Construction began on the present terminal in 1973 and the project, designed by Wallace & Watson, was completed in 1976.[7]

The most recent Terminal Renovations were done in two phases.

  • Phase I (April 2009). Cost: $7,253,235; PENNDOT grant amount: $3,000,000; general contractor: Lobar, Inc. (Dillsburg, PA); architect: Breslin, Ridyard, Fadero Architects (Allentown, PA); square footage of the Phase I project: 24,000 sq.ft., 7,000 sq.ft. of which is new space.
  • Phase II (November 2010). Cost: about $7,225,000; PENNDOT grant amount: $3,500,000; general contractor: E.R. Stuebner Construction, Inc. (Reading, PA); architect: Breslin, Ridyard, Fadero Architects (Allentown, PA); square footage of renovated space: 33,600 sq.ft.[8]

Facilities and aircraft[edit]

The airport covers 2,629 acres (1,064 ha) at an elevation of 393 feet (120 m). It has two asphalt runways: 6/24, 7,600 by 150 feet (2,316 x 46 m) and 13/31, 5,797 by 150 feet (1,767 x 46 m).[3] The airport has nine gates to service the passengers. The airport has five holding spots for cargo aircraft. Mainly Boeing 757 cargo aircraft fly in and out of the airport for FedEx along with Amazon Prime Air Boeing 767s.

Fire Department[edit]

Aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) is a special category of firefighting that involves the response, hazard mitigation, evacuation, rescue and emergency medical response to airport emergencies. Airport firefighters have advanced equipment and training in the application of firefighting foams, dry chemical and clean agents used to extinguish aviation fuels.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mandates ARFF operations at all U.S. airports that serve scheduled passenger air carriers. The LNAA ARFF Department is a group of highly dedicated and trained staff that consists of 7 full-time and 3 part-time personnel.

Commissioned on October 2003, the 13,000sq.ft. state-of-the-art ARFF facility is a very functional and professional addition to the airport. The selected building site yields the quickest response time to each of the existing runway ends and to the terminal building. The site is also strategically located to serve a future parallel Runway 6/24. The facility can be seen by passengers in the concourses and in arriving and departing aircraft.[9]

The airport website says in 2012 the airport had 100,048 aircraft operations. Itinerant Operations include 30,914 general aviation, 17,241 Regional Airlines, 4,249 Major Airlines and 608 military. 47,036 were by local aircraft.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Main terminal
Air Traffic Control Tower at KABE


Airlines Destinations
Allegiant Air Fort Lauderdale, Orlando/Sanford, Punta Gorda (FL), St. Petersburg/Clearwater
Seasonal: Myrtle Beach
American Eagle Charlotte, Philadelphia
Delta Air Lines Atlanta
Delta Connection Atlanta, Detroit
United Express Chicago–O'Hare

Allegiant uses the McDonnell Douglas MD-83 on all routes to Florida. On some select flights, Allegiant uses their Airbus A320-200.

American Eagle uses the Bombardier CRJ200 and, Bombardier CRJ900 on their route to Charlotte. American Eagle also uses the deHavilland Canada Dash 8 on their route to Philadelphia.

Delta Airlines uses their Boeing 717 on their flight to Atlanta which only operates one service a day in the morning with a flight number of (DL 719). The flight that returns the Boeing 717 for its morning flight is (DL 700).

Delta Connection uses their Bombardier CRJ200 on their flights to Detroit and Atlanta.

United Express uses the Embraer ERJ-135 on their flight to Chicago-O' Hare.

The airport is a popular diversion airport for flights going to the New York metropolitan area.


Airlines Destinations
Air Transport International
operated by ABX Air
Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Dallas/Fort Worth, Tampa, Wilmington (OH), Charlotte, Stockton (CA), Chicago Rockford
Amazon Prime Air
operated by Atlas Air
FedEx Express Indianapolis, Memphis
Seasonal: Newburgh, Newark, New York (JFK)

(ABE) currently has five cargo parking spots for cargo operations.

Air Transport International uses the Boeing 767-200 to all the destinations that serve the Lehigh Valley International Airport. Amazon Prime Air uses the Boeing 767-300F. Fedex normally serves (ABE) by the Boeing 757, but during the holiday rush Fedex Express uses the Airbus A300.

Bus service[edit]

United Express also has a bus service to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).[10] Continental Airlines, which later merged into United, previously operated flights from Allentown to Newark but switched to a bus service in 1995 due to constant delays from air traffic control.[11] The distance is 79 miles (127 km). As of 1997 the service was eight times daily.[12] By February 2010 the bus was the only form of service offered by Continental after it cancelled its Allentown to Cleveland Hopkins Airport flights.[11]


Annual traffic[edit]

Annual passenger traffic (enplaned + deplaned) at ABE, 2000 through 2015[13][14]
Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers
2010 838,141 2000 1,013,710
2009 748,482
2008 779,968
2007 847,527
2006 788,511
2015 673,097 2005 831,570
2014 612,650 2004 1,009,951
2013 621,896 2003 982,777
2012 723,556 2002 798,154
2011 873,351 2001 912,904

Carrier shares[edit]

Carrier shares: January 2015 - December 2015
Based on enplaned passengers both departing and arriving.[15]
Carrier Passengers (arriving and departing)

Top destinations[edit]

Top ten destinations: January 2015 – December 2015[15]
Rank City Airport Passengers Comments
1 Atlanta, GA Atlanta (ATL) 64,551 Delta Connection
2 Sanford, FL Orlando/Sanford (SFB) 51,607 Allegiant
2 Charlotte, NC Charlotte (CLT) 50,139 American/US Airways
4 Philadelphia, PA Philadelphia (PHL) 36,080 American/US Airways
5 Detroit, MI Detroit (DTW) 33,627 Delta
6 Chicago, IL Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) 33,200 United Express
7 St. Petersburg, FL St. Petersburg–Clearwater (PIE) 23,187 Allegiant
8 Punta Gorda, FL Punta Gorda/Fort Myers (PGD) 16,310 Allegiant
9 Myrtle Beach, SC Myrtle Beach (MYR) 8,926 Allegiant

Incidents and accidents[edit]

  • On September 19, 2008, Mesa Airlines Flight 7138, Bombardier CRJ700, was forced to make a high-speed aborted take off and swerve in order to avoid a collision with a Cessna 172 that had yet to exit the runway after landing. There were no fatalities or injuries.[16]
  • On November 16, 2008, US Airways Flight 4551, a US Airways Express de Havilland Dash 8 turboprop operated by Piedmont Airlines, took off from Lehigh Valley International Airport at 8:20 am heading to Philadelphia International Airport, and then had to make an emergency landing. The flight crew indicated that the front nose gear had not come down, and the plane had to make a flyover over the runway for confirmation. Of 35 passengers and three crew, there were no injuries.[17]
  • On June 27, 2009, Allegiant Air Flight 746, a McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft made an emergency landing after flames were observed coming from the aircraft's left engine. The flight was bound for Orlando Sanford International Airport. During takeoff one of the aircraft's tires had shredded and a piece was sucked into the engine, causing it to fail and momentarily catch on fire. The airliner landed safely minutes later with no injuries reported.[18]


  1. ^ August 2013 - July 2014,http://www.transtats.bts.gov/airports.asp?pn=1&Airport=ABE
  2. ^ Lehigh Valley International Airport, official website
  3. ^ a b FAA Airport Master Record for ABE (Form 5010 PDF), effective June 5, 2008
  4. ^ http://flylvia.com/trafficeReports.html?#content-right
  5. ^ The Morning Call, No U.S. Customs station at LVIA, but bluer skies may be ahead., Matt Assad, October 21, 2014, http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-allentown-airport-passenger-traffic-20141021-story.html
  6. ^ an "non-hub" is an airport having more than 10,000 but less than 0.05% of the annual passenger boardings of all the commercial service airports in the USA"FAA Airport Categories". 
  7. ^ "The A-B-E Airport" (PDF). Modern Steel Construction. New York: American Institute of Steel Construction. 15 (3): 6–7. 1975. Retrieved June 16, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Lehigh Valley International Airport Files Phase I and II 6102666001". Retrieved December 25, 2012. 
  9. ^ http://www.flylvia.com/stay-connected/fire-department/.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ "United." Lehigh Valley International Airport. Retrieved on October 27, 2016. "Non Stop to:[...]Newark"
  11. ^ a b Karp, Gregory (2010-05-04). "Airlines merger could halt bus flight". The Morning Call. Retrieved 2016-10-27. 
  12. ^ Wade, Betsy (1997-12-14). "PRACTICAL TRAVELER; When the Plane Is Really a Bus". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-10-27. 
  13. ^ ABE fact sheet, downloaded Nov 12, 2016
  14. ^ Dec 2015 Monthly Traffic Report, downloaded Nov 12, 2016
  15. ^ a b "Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton, PA: Lehigh Valley International (ABE)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Jun 2016. Retrieved Jun 4, 2016. 
  16. ^ https://www.ntsb.gov/news/2008/081119.html
  17. ^ https://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081116/ap_on_re_us/emergency_landing
  18. ^ "Plane makes emergency landing at Lehigh Valley International Airport". 
  • Allentown 1762–1987 A 225-Year History, Volume Two, 1921–1987. Mahlon H. Hellerich, editor, Lehigh County Historical Society, 1987.

External links[edit]

Media related to Lehigh Valley International Airport at Wikimedia Commons