Lehigh Valley International Airport

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Lehigh Valley International Airport
Lehigh Valley International Airport Logo.svg
Airport typePublic
Owner/OperatorLehigh–Northampton Airport Authority
ServesLehigh Valley
LocationHanover Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, near Allentown
Elevation AMSL393 ft / 120 m
Coordinates40°39′08.4″N 075°26′25.7″W / 40.652333°N 75.440472°W / 40.652333; -75.440472
ABE is located in Pennsylvania
Location of airport in Pennsylvania
ABE is located in the US
ABE (the US)
Direction Length Surface
ft m
06/24 7,599 2,316 Asphalt
13/31 5,800 1,768 Asphalt
Aircraft operations (2017)84,901
Based aircraft (2018)124
Total Passengers Served (12 months ending Nov 2017)645,000
Cargo handled (12 months ending Nov 2017)200,000,000 lbs.
Sources: airport website,[1] transtats,[2] and FAA[3]

Lehigh Valley International Airport (IATA: ABE, ICAO: KABE, FAA 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 and is included in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2017–2021, in which it is categorized as a non-hub primary commercial service facility.[4] In previous years the FAA categorized the airport as a "small hub."

The number of people using the airport fell by 24.3% from 723,556 in 2012 to 582,000 in 2014[5] and the airport had seen declines in passenger usage from the early 2000s when annual traffic twice hit levels above 1,000,000 passengers. It has, however, lately experienced a steady rebound in passenger traffic due to being a preferable alternative to the highly congested airports in Philadelphia and Newark, new improvements to its facilities and amenities, a fast-growing regional population, and the addition of new routes. In 2016 it serviced 688,505 passengers, an increase of 2.2% from 2015. In October 2017 it serviced a total of 67,261 passengers for the month, an increase of 19.6% from the same period in 2016.[6][7][8][9]

It is also becoming very popular for the transportation of air cargo due in large part to the rapid growth of e-commerce and close proximity to major population centers on the East Coast as well as increased demand for faster, more efficient shipping of merchandise around the country.[10] As of 2016, it ships more than 126 million pounds of cargo annually with growth of nearly 166% in cargo tonnage shipped between 2015 and 2016 alone. Companies such as Amazon.com and FedEx Ground are increasingly using the airport for these purposes which is a major factor in its growth.[11]

The airport is about 75 miles (121 km) from Philadelphia International Airport, 80 miles (130 km) from Newark Liberty International Airport, and 55 miles (89 km) from Trenton-Mercer Airport.

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

The shortest schedule commercial jet service in the contiguous US operates between ABE and PHL. Piedmont Airlines (American Eagle) regularly operates an ERJ-145 on the route which has a flight distance of 55 miles. Average time in the air is 20 minutes.[12]


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 2012, Frontier Airlines started twice a week nonstop flights to Orlando International Airport (MCO). Frontier used their Airbus A319 on their flights to Orlando International Airport. In 2013, Frontier discontinued service to Orlando International Airport due to increased fuel and operating costs at Lehigh Valley International Airport. It was no longer possible to provide low fares to customers. Allegiant is currently the only airline to provide nonstop flights to the city of Orlando via the Orlando–Sanford International Airport (SFB).[13][14]

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.[15]

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.[16]

Former carriers

Facilities and aircraft[edit]

The airport covers 2,278 acres (922 ha) at an elevation of 393 feet (120 m). It has two asphalt runways: 6/24, 7,599 by 150 feet (2,316 x 46 m) and 13/31, 5,800 by 150 feet (1,768 x 46 m).[3] The airport has nine gates to service the passengers. The airport has six 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.

For the 12-month period ending September 30, 2017, the airport had 84,901 aircraft operations, an average of 233[19] per day: 78% general aviation, 11% air taxi, 10% commercial airline and <1% military. In February 2018, there were 124 aircraft based at this airport: 64 single-engine, 10 multi-engine, 49 jet, and 1 helicopter.[3]

For the 12-month period ending June 2017, the airport handled about 183,000,000 pounds (83,000,000 kg) of freight/mail.[2]

The Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority also operates two nearby general aviation airports, Queen City Airport and Braden Airpark.

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 consists of 7 full-time and 3 part-time personnel, operating from a 13,000 sq.ft. facility commissioned in October 2003.[20]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Main terminal
Air Traffic Control Tower at KABE


Allegiant Air Fort Lauderdale, Orlando/Sanford, Punta Gorda (FL), St. Petersburg/Clearwater
Seasonal: Myrtle Beach
American Eagle Charlotte, Chicago—O’Hare (beings April 2, 2019), Philadelphia [22]
Delta Air Lines Atlanta [23]
Delta Connection Atlanta, Detroit [23]
United Express Chicago–O'Hare [24]


Amazon.com leverages the Lehigh Valley International Airport (LVIA) as one of only 11 locations in the country for their Amazon Air shipping service. LVIA was one of the first airports selected for the pilot concept of the program due to its close proximity to large population centers, cost-effectiveness, robust infrastructure, and comparative ease of use. This location now ships more merchandise, has more flights, and serves more people (over 75 million from Boston to Washington, D.C. as of late 2016) for Amazon than any other facility in the country. Both Amazon and LVIA continue to invest heavily in the local area to better support the ever-increasing demand for air cargo driven in large part by the explosive growth of e-commerce and the need for faster, more efficient delivery of merchandise.[25]

Due to the same aforementioned reasons for Amazon increasing its operations at the airport, FedEx Ground has selected an area near LVIA to construct its largest terminal in the country.[26]

(ABE) currently, has six cargo parking spots for cargo operations.

Amazon Air Cincinnati, Dallas/Fort Worth, Ontario, Riverside (CA), Sacramento, Seattle/Tacoma
FedEx Express Indianapolis, Memphis
Seasonal: Newburgh
Wiggins Airways Wilkes–Barre/Scranton

Charter Operations[edit]

Kalitta Charters Operates service for H.E. Tex Sutton Airlines' horse transport on the Boeing 727, and flies in from various destinations, primarily Lexington. Other destinations include Ontario, Seattle, and Stewart. Kalitta also flies cargo charters on the DC-9.

Sun Country operates military charters to the airport. Sun Country also operates charters for various sports teams.

Ameristar Also operates cargo charters into the airport via DC-9.

Air Canada Jetz Occasionally operates charters for the Toronto Marlies hockey club from Toronto, via Philadelphia.

Bus service[edit]

United Airlines also has a bus service to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).[27] 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.[28] The distance is 79 miles (127 km). As of 1997 the service was eight times daily. Today, the service is offered 3 times daily[29] By February 2010 the bus was the only form of service offered by Continental after it cancelled its Allentown to Cleveland Hopkins Airport flights.[28]


Annual traffic[edit]

Annual passenger traffic (enplaned + deplaned) at ABE, 2000 through 2017[30][31][32]
Year Passengers Change Year Passengers Change
2000 1,013,710 2010 838,141 Increase 11.98%
2001 912,904 Decrease 9.94% 2011 873,351 Increase 4.2%
2002 798,154 Decrease 12.57% 2012 723,556 Decrease 17.15%
2003 982,777 Increase 23.13% 2013 621,896 Decrease 14.05%
2004 1,009,951 Increase 2.76% 2014 612,650 Decrease 1.48%
2005 831,570 Decrease 17.66% 2015 673,097 Increase 9.86%
2006 788,511 Decrease 5.18% 2016 688,505 Increase 2.23%
2007 847,527 Increase 7.48% 2017 692,154 Increase 0.50%
2008 779,968 Decrease 7.97% 2018 Increase 0.00%
2009 748,482 Decrease 4.03% 2019 Increase 0.00%

Carrier shares[edit]

Carrier shares: (December 2016 – November 2017)
Based on enplaned passengers both departing and arriving.[33]
Carrier Passengers (arriving and departing)

Top destinations[edit]

Top destinations: (December 2016 – November 2017)[33]
Rank City Airport Passengers Carriers
1 Atlanta, GA Atlanta (ATL) 63,460 Delta
2 Sanford, FL Orlando–Sanford (SFB) 60,110 Allegiant
3 Charlotte, NC Charlotte (CLT) 50,550 American
4 Detroit, MI Detroit (DTW) 34,030 Delta
5 Chicago, IL Chicago–O'Hare (ORD) 28,500 United
6 Philadelphia, PA Philadelphia (PHL) 26,390 American
7 Punta Gorda, FL Punta Gorda (PGD) 20,550 Allegiant
8 St. Petersburg, FL St. Petersburg–Clearwater (PIE) 20,480 Allegiant
9 Myrtle Beach, SC Myrtle Beach (MYR) 10,710 Allegiant
10 Fort Lauderdale, FL For Lauderdale (FLL) 8,530 Allegiant

Incidents and accidents[edit]

  • On September 19, 2008, Mesa Airlines Flight 7138, Bombardier CRJ700, was forced to make a high-speed aborted takeoff 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.[34]
  • 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.[35]
  • 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.[36]
  • On February 3, 2016, Allegiant Air flight 624 from Orlando, an MD-80, blew its rear tires upon landing. All 152 people on board survived.
  • On February 14, 2017, a small twin-engine aircraft had made a successful landing on runway 13 after the gear had failed to deploy. The pilot was the only occupant and had survived the crash.


  1. ^ Lehigh Valley International Airport, official website
  2. ^ a b "RITA BTS Transtats - ABE". www.transtats.bts.gov.
  3. ^ a b c FAA Airport Master Record for ABE (Form 5010 PDF), effective February 1, 2018
  4. ^ "List of NPIAS Airports" (PDF). FAA.gov. Federal Aviation Administration. 21 October 2016. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  5. ^ http://flylvia.com/trafficeReports.html?#content-right Archived January 24, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "Cargo traffic soars, as more passengers choose LVIA, too". lehighvalleylive.com. Retrieved 2017-08-19.
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ "LVIA adds $5.2M transportation hub for buses, taxis and rental cars | LVB". Lehigh Valley Business. Retrieved 2017-08-19.
  9. ^ "Passenger traffic increases nearly 20 percent at LVIA - LVB".
  10. ^ Assad, Matt. "LVIA weighs future with Amazon as air cargo becomes big business". Lehigh Valley Business Cycle. Retrieved 2017-08-19.
  11. ^ Kraus, Scott. "LVIA air traffic jumped in 2016, due mostly to cargo". Lehigh Valley Business Cycle. Retrieved 2017-08-19.
  12. ^ https://www.transtats.bts.gov/DL_SelectFields.asp?Table_ID=236&DB_Short_Name=On-Time
  13. ^ Tom Zanki (28 February 2012). "Frontier Airlines to Join Lehigh Valley International Airport". Express-Times.
  14. ^ a b "Frontier Airlines Drops Nonstop Service between LVIA and Orlando". Lehighvalleylive.com. 15 November 2012.
  15. ^ "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.
  16. ^ "Lehigh Valley International Airport Files Phase I and II 6102666001". Retrieved December 25, 2012.
  17. ^ http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/breaking-news/index.ssf/2012/01/airtrain_pulls_out_of_lehigh_v_1.html
  18. ^ AirTran Airways Shifts Into High Gear with New Flights to Allentown, Pa. M2PressWIRE. June 25, 2009.
  19. ^ http://aspm.faa.gov/opsnet/sys/opsnet-server-x.asp
  20. ^ http://www.flylvia.com, Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE),. "Fire Department - Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE)". flylvia.com. Retrieved September 17, 2017.
  21. ^ "Allegiant Air Route Map". www.allegiantair.com. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  22. ^ "Flight schedules and notifications". Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  23. ^ a b "FLIGHT SCHEDULES". Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  24. ^ "Timetable". Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  25. ^ Assad, Matt. "Amazon has LVIA flying high". Lehigh Valley Business Cycle. Retrieved 2017-08-19.
  26. ^ Salamone, Matt Assad, Anthony. "Lehigh Valley FedEx Ground terminal to be company's largest in U.S., VP says". Lehigh Valley Business Cycle. Retrieved 2017-08-19.
  27. ^ "United." Lehigh Valley International Airport. Retrieved on October 27, 2016. "Non Stop to:[...]Newark"
  28. ^ a b Karp, Gregory (2010-05-04). "Airlines merger could halt bus flight". The Morning Call. Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  29. ^ Wade, Betsy (1997-12-14). "PRACTICAL TRAVELER; When the Plane Is Really a Bus". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  30. ^ http://www.flylvia.com, Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE),. "LNAA Fact Sheet - Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE)". flylvia.com. Retrieved September 17, 2017.
  31. ^ "Dec 2015 Monthly Traffic Report, downloaded Nov 12, 2016" (PDF). flylvia.com. Retrieved September 17, 2017.
  32. ^ "STRONG FINISH BRINGS INCREASE AT ABE downloaded Jul 22, 2018". flylvia.com. Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  33. ^ a b "RITA - BTS - Transtats".
  34. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 29, 2014. Retrieved May 29, 2014.
  35. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 11, 2008. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  36. ^ "Plane makes emergency landing at Lehigh Valley International Airport". Archived from the original on July 1, 2009.
  • 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