Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport
|Owner/Operator||Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties|
|Location||Pittston Township, Pennsylvania|
|Elevation AMSL||962 ft / 293 m|
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport (IATA: AVP, ICAO: KAVP, FAA LID: AVP) is mostly in Pittston Township, Pennsylvania, and spans the border between Luzerne County and Lackawanna County. It is owned and operated by the two counties; it is about 7 miles from Scranton and 8 miles from Wilkes-Barre. It is the fifth largest airport in Pennsylvania by passenger count and calls itself "your gateway to Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Pocono Mountains".
In the 1930s, cities in Northeast Pennsylvania began to see the need for an airport. Despite the depression and hard times affecting the coal mining industry, a windfall multimillion-dollar opportunity to build an airport was presented to Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties through their Public Works Administration. It became apparent that a modern airport would be needed for the economic survival of the region. The site in Avoca was first surveyed in 1939 by the County Commissioners boards of both counties.
In 1941, John B. McDade, father of Congressman Joseph M. McDade(whose name is on the current terminal building) and president of the Heidelberg Coal Co., donated 122 acres on which part of the airport now sits. Most of the land was previously owned by various coal companies.
Many U.S. airfields built in the World War II era were motivated as much by military defense as they were by civil aviation. The government funded construction of many airfields to develop a network that could be used by the military.
The proponents of a large bi-county airport continued their efforts in the early forties until late in 1944, when they succeeded in receiving a last minute commitment from the Administrator of Civil Aeronautics of the United States Department of Commerce, with the approval of a Board composed of the Secretaries of Navy, War, and Commerce, designating the project as necessary for national defense.
In early 1945, the two counties entered into a legal agreement to co-sponsor and operate the airport. During the negotiations of on-site selection and the bi-county operation plan, it was agreed that Scranton, the larger city and alphabetical first and closest in mileage should have second billing in name, since Luzerne County had the largest population. Thus, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Airport was named.
Construction of the airport took place from 1945 to June 1, 1947, when the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Airport was dedicated.
Colonial Airlines and American Airlines were the first airlines at AVP (this three-letter code derives from its location near Avoca, Pennsylvania). In April 1948 Transcontinental & Western Air (later TWA) arrived, and All American Airways (later Allegheny Airlines) in June 1949. Colonial flew Montreal/Syracuse- Philadelphia/Washington with stops; American flew to Chicago/Buffalo-New York; TWA flew Kansas City/Pittsburgh-Albany/Boston; and All American had general interstate service and later a looping network to Newark, Atlantic City, Washington, and around again through Pennsylvania. Each airline started with DC-3s. The April 1957 OAG shows 32 departures a day: 14 Allegheny, 12 Eastern, 4 TWA, and 2 American. The first jets were Eastern 727s, in the May 1969 OAG; in March 1969 the longest runway was the 5200-ft runway 4, which grew to 6450 feet by 1972.
The airport became "international" in 1975 when cargo flights to Canada began.
The airport has had many celebrity visitors. Air Force One has landed with Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump for fundraisers and campaign trips. A charter plane carrying Hillary Clinton used the airport during her presidential campaign in 2008. In August 2013, President Obama and 10 year Scranton-native Vice President Joe Biden visited the region for a campaign event. President Donald Trump visited the airport in 2020[when?] and held a campaign rally on the tarmac.
A new control tower and TRACON facility opened on August 29, 2012 and was paid for with $13.3 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The old tower's view of the second runway had been blocked by the new terminal. All 25 controllers stayed to work in the new facility.
On May 18, 2017 demolition began on the former airport terminal.
The old terminal was demolished in early 2018. The site will be a cell phone parking lot and parking for airport staff.
United Airlines announced several schedule changes; on October 3, 2018 the airport stopped connecting passengers through the Newark airport as they shifted the flights to Washington-Dulles beginning on October 4, 2018. For years, the flights from AVP to EWR were scheduled to depart around 1PM, and towards the end of 2016, it was changed to a 6PM departure. Numbers dropped dramatically as connections were very limited and flights were delayed constantly due to air traffic control. AVP was the last regional airport in Pennsylvania to have flights to EWR; Pittsburgh International Airport is currently the only airport in Pennsylvania that offers flights to Newark.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport was the host of an air show between 1983 and 2000. The show was temporarily suspended due to construction of a new terminal; however, it was expected to return after construction was completed. Later that year, reports said the planned renovations to the airport would leave no room for the air show. In early 2017, The Bi-County Airport Board unanimously approved hosting the Northeastern Pennsylvania Air Show at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport from August 12-13, 2017. The show, back after a 17-year absence, featured several acts:
o U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team
o U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight Team
o F-22 Raptor Demo team
o U.S. Navy F/A-18 TacDemo Team
It was announced that the airshow would return in 2020, where the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds are scheduled to perform at the airshow August 22 and 23, 2020.
The airport covers 910 acres (368 ha) and has two asphalt runways:
General aviation uses the fixed-base operator (FBO) Aviation Technologies.
The Bureau of U.S. Customs and Border Protection has a property located on airport grounds. The property is located on the FBO side of the airport near the hangars. This U.S. Customs Service office serves as a facilities and crossings for Harrisburg's port of entry.
The airport has no scheduled international service, but it has a location to process international flights, on the lower level near Gates 1 & 2, where the airport can isolate international passengers from domestic. With advance notice, the airport can process scheduled international flights or flights that have diverted to AVP.
The airport has one passenger terminal with 8 gates. Gates 1 and 2 are on the lower level; Gates 3 through 8 are on the second floor.
Gate 7 is used for charter flights and diversions. Gates 1 & 2 were used by American Eagle & United Express for their turboprops. Since they switched to jets, these two gates are not used daily. Jets are parked here if all the other gates are being used or for diversions.
|American Eagle||Charlotte, Chicago-O'Hare|
|United Express||Chicago-O'Hare, Washington-Dulles|
|2||Chicago-O'Hare, IL||40,530||American, United|
|6||Dulles, VA (Washington, DC)||17,550||United|
The following rental car companies provided their services at Wilkes-Barre: Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz and National. With regards to Transportation Network Companies, or TNCs, Uber and Lyft have specific pick-up locations in front of the Terminal Building, on the arrivals side. Taxi service is provided by Burgit's City Taxi, Call-a-Car Taxi and McCarthy Flowered Cabs.
AVP is a popular location for diversions.