The resumption of passenger service at Wilmington Airport, with Avelo Airlines flying to and from five Florida destinations, means that the airport qualifies for $850,000 more in federal funding.
The airport “will programmatically be able to assume an annual federal entitlement of $1 million,” according to its owner-operator, the Delaware River and Bay Authority.
As a General Aviation Reliever Airport, the airport previously earned a non-primary entitlement of $150,000.
On Feb. 1, Avelo began service at the Wilmington Airport with 149-seat, Boeing Next-Generation 737 aircraft, with flights to Orlando, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Fort Myers. Since then, nearly 22,000 passengers have either boarded or disembarked an Avelo flights.
And if Avelo succeeds with service – that’s a huge question, considering the number of companies that have tried – the New Castle airport could qualify for more federal funding.
The annual minimum entitlement is $1 million as a Commercial Service Airport, and the annual maximum is $26 million.
“We’re proud to achieve this milestone again and, if the trend in demand continues, 50,000 enplanements will be quickly on the horizon,” Stephen D. Williams, deputy executive director of the authority, said in a statement.
383 airports nationwide
The airport is one of 383 airports nationwide, and Delaware’s only one, with the classification.
The airport also receives revenue from the Federal Aviation Administration’s passenger facility charge. It is authorized to collect up to $1.3 million until 2024. at $4.39 per passenger.
Orlando is by far Wilmington’s most popular destination, with the other four roughly tied. In all five destinations, so far more people have flown from Wilmington than have returned, which reflects snowbirds heading south for the winter.
Avelo was founded as a charter service in 1987 and started commercial passenger service in 2021. Last October, it announced service for Wilmington.
Budget carrier Frontier Airlines operated flights out of Wilmington Airport between 2013 and 2015, then again for half of 2021 before suspending service.
Because Delaware’s airports are so small, they logged only 94 delays in the first 11 months of 2022, making them dead last in Bureau of Transportation Statistics data, according to Family Destinations Guide. West Virginia was 49th, with 9,019, and California first, with 1,344,218.
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