New Castle County forms task force to study future of airport

By Roger Morris

Plans for the future of the New Castle County Airport (ILG) have entered a holding pattern.

On Wednesday, October 2, New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer announced the formation of a 12-person task force to come up with recommendations for the future of the facility, which currently has no commercial flights, by April 30, 2020.

Based on those recommendations, the county will inform its partner in airport operations, the Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA), by June 30, 2020, whether it wants to renew their existing arrangement or terminate it.

“The Wilmington Airport is one of the largest and [most] underutilized assets owned by New Castle County,” Meyer said in prepared remarks. “We owe it to the taxpayers and residents of New Castle County to ensure this airport is creating jobs and generating revenue.” Both Meyer and task force chairman Alan Levin, retired head of the Delaware Economic Development Office, emphasized that no preconceived solutions would be driving the task force’s deliberations and that all options were to be considered.

The current agreement with DRBA was signed in 1995 and is set to end in 2025, but the early 2020 notification of future intent is required. If the county decides it wants to seek a continuation, it may also try to renegotiate conditions. Meetings of the task force will be open to the public.

Meyer said the task force is looking to hire an experienced airport consultant and will study what other regional airports that exist in the shadow of a major airports — as New Castle County does with Philadelphia International — have done to optimize their economic benefits. “It is clear that neither DBRA nor the county are the best people to operate an airport,” he said.

In addition to task force chairman Levin, other members of the task force include:

  • Rick Deadwyler (Corteva)
  • Paul McConnell (McConnell Johnson)
  • Lt. Col. Michael Hales (Director of Aviation, Delaware State University)
  • Cathy Rossi (AAA), Ralph Kunz, (Greenwich AeroGroup, Summit Aviation)
  • Dr. Debbie Bullock (human resources consultant and former flight attendant)
  • Chris Buccini (Buccini/Pollin Group)
  • Mitch Dishman (Dassault Aircraft Services)
  • Dr. Laura Johnson (Delaware Technical Community College)
  • County Council member George Smiley
  • County Council member Ken Woods

The last commercial operator at the airport was Frontier Airlines. For more background on the past and future of the airport, read this expanded feature from DBT.

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