Wilmington Airport (Delaware)

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For the military use of this facility, see New Castle Air National Guard Base.
Wilmington Airport
New Castle Airport Logo.jpg
New Castle Airport - Delaware.jpg
2006 USGS aerial photo
WMO: 72418
Airport type Public
Owner New Castle County, Delaware
Operator Delaware River and Bay Authority
Serves Wilmington, Delaware
Elevation AMSL 80 ft / 24 m
Coordinates 39°40′43″N 075°36′24″W / 39.67861°N 75.60667°W / 39.67861; -75.60667Coordinates: 39°40′43″N 075°36′24″W / 39.67861°N 75.60667°W / 39.67861; -75.60667
Website http://flywilmilg.com
ILG is located in Delaware
Location of airport in Delaware
Direction Length Surface
ft m
9/27 7,275 2,217 Asphalt
1/19 7,012 2,137 Asphalt
14/32 4,602 1,403 Asphalt
Statistics (2013)
Passenger enplanements 52,456
Aircraft operations 53,255
Based aircraft 223

Wilmington Airport (IATA: ILG) (also known as Wilmington/Philadelphia Regional Airport, New Castle County Airport, or New Castle Airport) is in unincorporated New Castle County, Delaware.[1] Owned by the Delaware River and Bay Authority, it is five miles (8 km) south of Wilmington and about 30 miles (50 km) from Philadelphia.[1]

The National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2011–2015 categorized it as a general aviation reliever airport.[2] Federal Aviation Administration records say the airport had 642 passenger boardings (enplanements) in calendar year 2011 and 1,064 passenger boardings in 2012.[3] Thanks to the inauguration of service by Frontier Airlines, 2013 enplanements increased to 52,456.[4]


The airport opened before World War II, named the Wilmington Airport and the Greater Wilmington Airport. The facility was taken over by the United States Army Air Forces during the war. Under USAAF control, the airport became New Castle Army Air Base. Its mission was to facilitate the movement of aircraft to the British and other Allies. Members of the historic Women Air Service Pilots (WASP) served as test and ferry pilots and towed targets for student gunners. There is a statue today at the airport that honors the women of the WASP that served their country in the time of need.[5]

After the war ended control of the airport was returned to civil authorities. A joint-use agreement was made between the United States Air Force and New Castle County authorities for a portion of the airport being retained for an Air National Guard Base. Trans World Airlines (TWA) operated a large overhaul base for its overseas planes at the airport until 1957 when the airline moved it to the Kansas City Overhaul Base which became the basis for today's Kansas City International Airport.[6]

Delaware's first airline flights were operated by TWA and American Airlines at Wilmington in late 1947.

By 1967, Eastern Airlines was operating Douglas DC-9 jet service into the airport with nonstops to New York Newark Airport, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. National Airport as well as direct flights to Atlanta and Charlotte.[7]

1990s to present[edit]

In the late 1990s the county leased the debt-stricken airport to the bi-state Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA), operators of the Delaware Memorial Bridge, on a thirty-year lease with the provision that the DRBA may seek up to two additional thirty-year leases. Since taking over operations, the DRBA made the airport profitable, upgraded many aging buildings, and built numerous new buildings and facilities on the property.

From 1991 through 1998, again from 2000 to 2006, and from April 2008 until June 30, 2013, Delaware was the only U.S. state without any scheduled airline flights.

United Airlines served Wilmington until 1991. USAir Express carrier Crown Airways provided scheduled service to Parkersburg, West Virginia, from 1992 to 1993.[citation needed]

Shuttle America offered scheduled flights out of Wilmington from the airline's founding in November 1998 until February 2000. They flew to Hartford, Buffalo, and Norfolk with 50-seat de Havilland Canada DHC-8 Dash 8-300 turboprops. Shuttle America would eventually discontinue its independent operations and become a commuter affiliate of United Express and Delta Connection.

On June 29, 2006, a Delta Air Lines regional airline affiliate began flights from Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to New Castle Airport, the first airline service in six years. Delta Connection carrier Atlantic Southeast Airlines flew 50-seat Canadair CRJ regional jets on two daily roundtrip flights. Delta Air Lines ended the Wilmington flights on September 6, 2007, leaving Delaware without any airline service.

On March 8, 2008, Skybus Airlines began Airbus A319 jet flights from Columbus, Ohio and Greensboro, North Carolina to Wilmington. Skybus ceased all operations effective April 4, 2008,[8] once again leaving New Castle Airport without any airline service. As of August 4, 2010, Avis Rent a Car System, LLC, Budget Rent A Car System, Inc., and Cafe Bama were the only tenants in the Main Terminal.

On July 1, 2013, Frontier Airlines began Airbus A320 jet service at Wilmington, initially with flights to Denver, Chicago-Midway, Houston-Hobby, Orlando, and Tampa.[9] On June 26, 2013, Frontier announced nonstop jet service to Fort Myers would begin November 16. [10] In June 2015, it was announced that Frontier Airlines would end service because it was not a profitable operation. Service had actually stopped in April 2015, but at that time, Frontier claimed it was just a seasonal pause in service.[11]


The airport covers 1,250 acres (506 ha) at an elevation of 80 feet (24 m). It has three asphalt runways: 9/27 is 7,275 by 150 feet (2,217 x 46 m); 1/19 is 7,012 by 150 feet (2,137 x 46 m); 14/32 is 4,602 by 150 feet (1,403 x 46 m).[1]

In the year ending October 31, 2011, the airport had 67,328 aircraft operations, average 184 per day: 85% general aviation, 10% military, 5% air taxi, and <1% airline. 219 aircraft were then based at the airport: 48% single-engine, 30% jet, 11% multi-engine, 9% military, and 2% helicopter.[1]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Frontier Airlines, which called the airport "Wilmington/Philadelphia", started service to the airport in July 2013. Frontier operated seven nonstop routes with 168-seat Airbus A320 jetliners. The service was part of Frontier's effort to remake itself as an "ultra-low cost carrier," after it eliminated domestic service to Philadelphia in 2012. Frontier also serves Trenton Mercer Airport north of Philadelphia. Frontier ended all service out of the airport in April 2015. In an email, Frontier spokesman Todd Lehmacher described the New Castle service cuts as "seasonal" but refused to elaborate. "Our plan calls for a seasonal suspension of Wilmington service in April 2015," Lehmacher said. "We have not yet announced our intentions beyond that time." [12] Further, Frontier had also recently restarted service to Philadelphia in December. [13]

In June 2015, the company confirmed they would not be returning to New Castle, citing the fact that it was not a profitable operation for them. This again left Delaware as the only U. S. state without scheduled commercial air service. [14]

Frontier Airlines was the only airline to serve the airport


Busiest domestic routes from Wilmington Airport
(Dec 2013-Nov 2014)[15]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Orlando, FL: MCO 28,000 Frontier
2 Denver, CO: DEN 24,000 Frontier
3 Chicago, IL: MDW 18,000 Frontier
4 Atlanta, GA: ATL 11,000 Frontier
5 Tampa, FL: TPA 10,000 Frontier
5 Fort Myers, FL: RSW 10,000 Frontier
7 Detroit, MI: DTW 8,000 Frontier

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e FAA Airport Master Record for ILG (Form 5010 PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. Effective November 15, 2012.
  2. ^ "2011–2015 NPIAS Report, Appendix A" (PDF, 2.03 MB). National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems. Federal Aviation Administration. October 4, 2010.  External link in |work= (help)
  3. ^ "Passenger Boarding (Enplanement) and All-Cargo Data for U.S. Airports". Federal Aviation Administration. Retrieved November 19, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Frontier Airlines to begin commercial service from Delaware's New Castle Airport". South Jersey Times. April 9, 2013. 
  5. ^  This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.
  6. ^ "Delawareans Helped To Pioneer Flying; 50th Anniversary to Be Observed Here". Wilmington Sunday Star. December 13, 1953. 
  7. ^ http://www.timetableimages.com, June 13, 1967 Eastern Airlines system timetable
  8. ^ "Low-cost carrier Skybus calls it quits". MSNBC. April 4, 2008. Retrieved April 5, 2008. 
  9. ^ Mutzabaugh, Ben (2013-07-02). "Frontier Airlines puts Delaware back on USA's flight map". USA Today. Retrieved 2014-08-02. 
  10. ^ "Frontier Airlines Adds New Nonstop Route Between Wilmington/Philadelphia and Fort Myers, Fla." (Press release). Frontier Airlines. June 26, 2013. 
  11. ^ Goss, Scott (June 30, 2015). "Frontier Airlines' pullout leaves Delaware with no flights". USA Today. Retrieved July 1, 2015. 
  12. ^ http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/local/2014/11/24/frontier-suspending-wilmington-flights/70049870/
  13. ^ http://www.delawareonline.com/story/money/business/2014/09/30/frontier-announces-slate-flights-philly/16472483/
  14. ^ http://www.usatoday.com/story/todayinthesky/2015/06/29/frontiers-pullout-leaves-delaware-without-airline-service/29462763/
  15. ^ http://www.transtats.bts.gov/airports.asp?pn=1&Airport=ILG&Airport_Name=Wilmington,%20DE:%20New%20Castle&carrier=FACTS: New Castle Airport&carrier=FACTS

External links[edit]