Wilmington International Airport is located in the port city of Wilmington. Credit: Edward Orde.
The airport is owned by New Hanover County and managed by North Carolina and Wilmington Airport Authority. Credit: Edward Orde.
Terminal expansion project is undertaken by the airport authorities to handle increasing passenger traffic at the airport. Credit: EoRdE6.

Wilmington International Airport (IATA: ILM) is located in the northern part of the Wilmington city, North Carolina, US. It is owned by the New Hanover County, North Carolina, and managed by the Wilmington Airport Authority.

The airport plays a key role in the transportation network in the North Carolina region. The terminal is set to undergo a major expansion to meet the demand of an increasing number of passengers and offer an improved travel experience to the users.

The terminal expansion is expected to begin in October 2018 and is scheduled for completion in 2022.

Wilmington International Airport terminal expansion purpose and details

ILM recorded a steady growth in passenger movement over the past four years. The passenger enplanements and deplanements during 2017 totalled 420,571 and 416,018 respectively, which is a significant rise compared to 411,399 enplanements and 406,497 deplanements during 2016.

Increasing passenger traffic has necessitated the expansion of the terminal in order to improve its passenger handling capacity. The new terminal will be able to accommodate 705,000 deplanements once it opens.

The terminal expansion project will involve partial replacement and expansion of the terminal building, which was originally built in 1989. The expansion of the terminal aircraft apron and construction of a new parking facility will also be completed as part of the project.

“Wilmington Airport Authority placed a $2m contract with Talbert & Bright to carry out the first phase improvements in August 2018.”

The existing 102,000ft² terminal will be expanded to 118,000ft², while the ramp area will be increased from 730,000ft² to 880,000ft². The existing rental cars parking area will be replaced by a two-floor car park building with short-term parking spaces.

Expansion work will be carried out in three phases, with an estimated investment of $86m. The ticket counter areas will be expanded, TSA baggage screening devices will be relocated, and gates and baggage areas will be constructed under phase one.

The second phase of the expansion will involve the construction of a ticketing area, while the concourse, gates area, concessions, restaurants and baggage claim areas will be redesigned as part of the third phase.

Wilmington Airport Authority placed a $2m contract with Talbert & Bright to carry out the first phase improvements in August 2018.

Wilmington International Airport history and existing facilities

Opened in 1927, the Wilmington International Airport occupies an area of 1,800 acres (7.28 million square metres). It was used as an airfield for training and antisubmarine patrols by the United States Army Air Forces Third Air Force during the Second World War.

Commercial flight services at the airport were started in 1948 by the Piedmont Airlines. The initial commercial flight route was between Cincinnati and Wilmington.

The airport was initially named as Bluethenthal Field Airport, and was renamed New Hanover County Airport in 1950s. It was later renamed as the New Hanover County International Airport in 1988, while the airport authorities later renamed it as the Wilmington International Airport in 1997.

The airport currently features two runways and a main terminal building with eight gates. A ramp facility operated by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is located near the terminal. It assists international flights making unscheduled stops at the airport.


The airport features two asphalt-surfaced runways designated as Runway 6/24 and Runway 17/35. The Runway 6/24 has a load-bearing capacity of 78t, while the runway 17/35 has a load-bearing capacity of 61t.