Wilmington Airport (Delaware)
2006 USGS aerial photo
|Owner||New Castle County, Delaware|
|Operator||Delaware River and Bay Authority|
|Elevation AMSL||80 ft / 24 m|
Wilmington Airport (IATA: ILG) (also known as Wilmington/Philadelphia Regional Airport, New Castle County Airport, or New Castle Airport) is an airport located in unincorporated New Castle County, Delaware near Wilmington, Delaware. 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. It 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.
Federal Aviation Administration records say the airport had 642 passenger boardings (enplanements) in calendar year 2011 and 1,064 passenger boardings in 2012. Thanks to the inauguration of service by Frontier Airlines, 2013 enplanements increased to 52,456, though Frontier ended its Delaware service in 2015.
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.
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.
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.
1990s to present
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, from April 2008 until June 30, 2013, and since April 2015, Delaware has been the only U.S. state without any scheduled airline flights.
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, 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. On June 26, 2013, Frontier announced nonstop jet service to Fort Myers would begin November 16.  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 suspension of service.
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).
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.
- FAA Airport Master Record for ILG ( PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. Effective November 15, 2012.
- "List of NPIAS Airports" (PDF). FAA.gov. Federal Aviation Administration. 21 October 2016. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
- "Passenger Boarding (Enplanement) and All-Cargo Data for U.S. Airports". Federal Aviation Administration. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
- "Frontier Airlines to begin commercial service from Delaware's New Castle Airport". South Jersey Times. April 9, 2013.
- This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.
- "Delawareans Helped To Pioneer Flying; 50th Anniversary to Be Observed Here". Wilmington Sunday Star. December 13, 1953.
- http://www.timetableimages.com, June 13, 1967 Eastern Airlines system timetable
- "Low-cost carrier Skybus calls it quits". MSNBC. April 4, 2008. Retrieved April 5, 2008.
- Mutzabaugh, Ben (2013-07-02). "Frontier Airlines puts Delaware back on USA's flight map". USA Today. Retrieved 2014-08-02.
- "Frontier Airlines Adds New Nonstop Route Between Wilmington/Philadelphia and Fort Myers, Fla." (Press release). Frontier Airlines. June 26, 2013.
- Goss, Scott (June 30, 2015). "Frontier Airlines' pullout leaves Delaware with no flights". USA Today. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
- Official sites: FlyWilmILG.com and NewCastleAirportILG.com
- "New Castle Airport (ILG)" (PDF). at Delaware DOT website
- Fixed-base operators (FBOs): Hawker Beechcraft Services, Aero-Taxi, AeroWays, Dassault Aircraft Services, Atlantic Aviation
- Aerial image as of March 1992 from USGS The National Map
- (PDF), effective April 27, 2017
- FAA Terminal Procedures for ILG, effective April 27, 2017
- Resources for this airport: