Lehigh Valley International Airport
|Owner/Operator||Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority|
|Location||Hanover Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, near Allentown|
|Focus city for|
|Elevation AMSL||393 ft / 120 m|
Lehigh Valley International Airport (IATA: ABE, ICAO: KABE, FAA LID: ABE) (formerly Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton International Airport) is a domestic airport in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, United States. Parts are in Catasauqua and Allen Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania. It is 3 miles (5 km) northeast of Allentown, and two miles (3.2 km) northwest of Bethlehem, in the Lehigh Valley area. It is the fourth busiest airport in the state, after Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2019-2023, in which it is categorized as a non-hub primary commercial service facility. In previous years the FAA categorized the airport as a "small hub."
After several years of falling passenger counts in the early 2000s, the airport has lately experienced a significant rebound in passenger totals due to being an alternative to the congested airports in Philadelphia and Newark, airport facility improvements, a rapidly growing regional population, carrier expansions (especially Allegiant Air which is constructing a new base at the airport), and multiple new routes being added for popular destinations and major hubs across the country. In 2016 it had 688,505 passengers, an increase of 2.2% from 2015, and In 2018 it had 792,974 passengers. Passenger traffic has experienced 26 consecutive months of steady growth as of November 2019, and the total passenger count for January through November 2019 has already eclipsed 2018's passenger totals for that entire year. Much of this growth has been driven by Allegiant Airlines new base, providing low-cost flights to multiple leisure destinations.
It is becoming popular for the transportation of air cargo due to growth of e-commerce and close proximity to major population centers on the East Coast. As of 2016, it ships more than 126 million pounds of cargo annually with growth of nearly 166% in cargo tonnage shipped between 2015 and 2016. Companies such as Amazon.com are using the airport, a major factor in its growth.
One of the shortest scheduled jet flights in the contiguous US operated between ABE and PHL. Piedmont Airlines (American Eagle) regularly operates an ERJ-145 on the 55-mile route. The average time in the air is 20 minutes. It was the shortest flight in mainland America until 2017, when it was surpassed by Skywest (United Express) SFO to STS route in 2017, as that route has an average time in the air of 16 minutes. The ABE-PHL flights ended in 2020.
Lehigh Valley International Airport opened in 1929 and is one of the few in the United States that serves its community from its original location. Scheduled airline flights began on September 16, 1935, by United Airlines Boeing 247s. The airport hangar served as the passenger terminal; the first terminal building at the airport was built in 1938, a Works Projects Administration project.
During World War II the U. S. Navy V-5 flight training program was conducted at the airport in conjunction with ground training held at Muhlenberg College. In addition, Headquarters of Group 312 of the Civil Air Patrol was at Allentown-Bethlehem Airport. One of its activities was to provide a courier service for cargo defense plants. Allentown CAP pilots also patrolled the Atlantic coastline and were active in recruiting young men for the air cadet program of the Army Air Force.
By January 1944 work on a new runway was completed and a Class A United States Weather Bureau station had been installed. About 1,000 Naval Aviation Cadets were trained in 1943, and civil and military air traffic had increased. In late July, the War Production Board approved the construction of a second story addition to the administration building. The building housed the Lehigh Aircraft Company, the weather bureau station, the Civil Aeronautic communications station, and the office and waiting room of United Air Lines. In August, the V-5 flight training program ended when the Navy decided to move all flight training to naval air bases under Navy pilots.
In April 1946 the Lehigh Airport Authority was created to own and manage the airport. The October 1946 C&GS diagram shows four runways forming an asterisk: runway 1 was 2680 ft long, 6 was 4000 ft, 9 was 3800 ft and 14 was 3100 ft.
A new passenger terminal began construction in 1948 and was finished in 1950. Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton (ABE) Airport, as it was now called, had flights on United, Trans World Airlines since 1947, and Colonial Airlines since 1949-50. DC-4s and DC-6s appeared after runway 6 was extended to 5,000 ft. TWA left in 1967, replaced by Allegheny; Colonial's successor Eastern remained until 1991. Republic DC-9 offered nonstop flights to Detroit and continued by Northwest Airlines after the acquisition. Northwest also offered one-stop flights to Detroit with a stop in Harrisburg. Regional partners replaced successor Northwest around 2003. Delta started nonstop flights to Atlanta and Harrisburg in 1991 and later added flights to Cincinnati, initially operated by Delta until changing to Delta Connection carrier Comair.
In 2012 Frontier Airlines started twice a week nonstop A319 flights to Orlando International Airport; they ended in 2013. Allegiant is now the only airline flying nonstop to Orlando, via the Orlando-Sanford International Airport (SFB).
Construction began on the present terminal in 1973 and the project, designed by Wallace & Watson, was completed in 1976.
The most recent terminal senovations were done in two phases.
On May 26, 2016, Solar Impulse 2 (SI2), piloted by Bertrand Piccard, completed the 13th leg (from Dayton, OH) of the first around the world (43,041 km) fuel-less flight by this solar-powered plane landing at ABE. On June 11, 2016, André Borschberg began the 14th leg (ABE to JFK - which included a dramatic Statue of Liberty flyover). While at ABE, an open house was held for public viewing of the SI2 aircraft.
The airport covers 2,278 acres (922 ha) at an elevation of 393 feet (120 m). It has two asphalt runways: 6/24, 7,599 by 150 feet (2,316 x 46 m) and 13/31, 5,800 by 150 feet (1,768 x 46 m). The airport has nine gates to service the passengers. The airport has six holding spots for cargo aircraft. Mainly Boeing 757 cargo aircraft fly in and out of the airport for FedEx along with Amazon Prime Air Boeing 767s.
In the year ending December 31, 2018 the airport had 75,231 aircraft operations, an average of 206 per day: 73% general aviation, 14% commercial airline, 12% air taxi, and <1% military. In May 2020, 137 aircraft were based at the airport: 73 single-engine, 11 multi-engine, 52 jet, and 1 helicopter.
Aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) is provided by the LNAA ARFF Department, which consists of seven full-time and three part-time personnel, operating from a 13,000 sq.ft. facility commissioned in October 2003.
|Allegiant Air|| Fort Lauderdale, Myrtle Beach, Nashville, Orlando/Sanford, Punta Gorda (FL), Sarasota, St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Savannah|
|American Eagle||Charlotte, Chicago-O'Hare, Philadelphia|||
|Delta Connection||Atlanta, Detroit|||
|United Express||Chicago-O'Hare, Washington-Dulles (begins December 17, 2020)|||
|Passenger destinations map|
Amazon.com uses the Lehigh Valley International Airport (LVIA) as one of only 11 locations in the country for their Amazon Air shipping service. LVIA was one of the first airports selected for the pilot concept of the program due to its close proximity to large population centers, cost-effectiveness, robust infrastructure, and comparative ease of use. This location now ships more merchandise has more flights, and serves more people (over 75 million from Boston to Washington, D.C., as of late 2016) for Amazon than any other facility in the country. Both Amazon and LVIA continue to invest heavily in the local area to better support the ever-increasing demand for air cargo driven in large part by the explosive growth of e-commerce and the need for faster, more efficient delivery of merchandise.
ABE currently has six cargo parking spots for cargo operations.
|Amazon Air||Cincinnati, Ontario, Sacramento|
| Indianapolis, Memphis|
|Cargo destinations map|
United Airlines also has a bus service to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).Continental Airlines, which later merged into United, previously operated flights from Allentown to Newark but switched to a bus service in 1995 due to constant delays from air traffic control. The distance is 79 miles (127 km). As of 1997 the service was eight times daily. Today, the service is offered 3 times daily By February 2010 the bus was the only form of service offered by Continental after it cancelled its Allentown to Cleveland Hopkins Airport flights.
|Carrier||Passengers (arriving and departing)|
|7||Punta Gorda, FL||28,310||Allegiant|
|9||Myrtle Beach, SC||14,220||Allegiant|
Media related to Lehigh Valley International Airport at Wikimedia Commons