Lehigh Valley International Airport Poised for One of Its Biggest Years
By Colin McEvoy on January 27, 2020
Fresh off having celebrated its 90th anniversary last year, the Lehigh Valley International Airport (LVIA) is poised for what could become one of its biggest years ever.
LVIA is coming off of 27 straight months of positive passenger growth dating back to October 2017, and a total of 911,970 passengers traveled through the airport in 2019, a 15.01% increase from the previous year and the highest single-year total since 2004.
Looking ahead to 2020, Thomas R. Stoudt, Executive Director, Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority (LNAA), thinks the airport has a shot at returning to 1 million passengers this year, which would be the first time in 16 years.
“Can we get there in 2020, it’s a possibility but there are plenty of factors beyond our control,” Stoudt said. “We just want to express our thanks and appreciation to every passenger, stakeholders, and staff for an amazing year.”
LVIA ended last year serving 72,150 passengers in December alone, a 17.41% increase from the same month the previous year. In the next 12 months, the airport expects a spike in passenger activity during peak travel hours.
But strong passenger totals is just one of the exciting things happening at the Hanover Township, Lehigh County-based airport, which has recently added four air service additions, unveiled plans for new improvements, and is welcoming a new Allegiant Air aircraft base.
“It seemed like every month, something exciting was happening at your neighborhood airport,” Stoudt said.
Last summer, Allegiant announced plans to establish a $50 million base of operations at LVIA that would create 66 new high-wage jobs and provide yet another critical link for businesses seeking to come, start, and grow here in Lehigh Valley.
“Lehigh Valley is a perfect location for a permanent base, which will further establish Allegiant as a hometown airline in eastern Pennsylvania,” Keith Hansen, vice president of government affairs for Allegiant, said at the time.
Allegiant also brought four new destinations to LVIA: Chicago, Nashville, Savannah/Hilton Head, and Sarasota, according to the airport. American Airlines also added flights to Chicago in 2019.
Additionally, late last year unveiled plans for a $22 million Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint expansion and terminal connector to further elevate the customer experience at LVIA.
The plans will increase TSA checkpoint capacity from two processing lanes to three, possibly four, and will provide intuitive wayfinding for inbound and outbound passenger flow with reduced vertical transitions between levels.
“Information obtained from the Master Plan Update for ABE has supported the Airport’s assertion that traffic will significantly increase in the future, but with passenger growth happening faster than our forecasts, we must address these essential infrastructure improvements with a heightened priority,” Stoudt said.
LVIA plays has a pivotal role and impact on regional economic development in Lehigh Valley, and transportation resources are an important resource for site selectors and businesses considering where to locate a building or expansion.
Having a regionally-based airport like LVIA is also helpful for foreign direct investment in the Lehigh Valley. When companies based overseas are seeking places in the United States for investment, it is critically important that they have quick access to their facilities via airports.
“The convenience and success of the Lehigh Valley International Airport is a critical factor in both the economic and population growth of the Lehigh Valley,” said Don Cunningham, President & CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC).
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