Above photo: Stephen D. Williams (Photo/Shutterstock)
By Kharisma McIlwaine
Philadelphia has always been a major hub for domestic and international travel. Easy and accessible travel that many people in the tri-state area don’t realize is also readily available in Delaware. Located at 151 N. Dupont Highway in New Castle, Wilmington Delaware Airport (ILG) offers customers more travel options at affordable prices.
Delaware River and Bay Authority Deputy Director and ILG Airport Director Stephen D. Williams spoke with the SUN about his 40-year career in the aviation and transportation industry and the importance of providing and expanding travel options in Delaware.
Williams’ passion for aviation and travel was a direct result of growing up near JFK Airport in New York City.
“I think I was fascinated by aviation and the promise of aviation from a young age,” Williams says. “At first I was an amateur photographer of airplanes. After high school, I went to work part-time at an airport. This was the era of the 747’s existence. When I finished high school and started working in the transportation field, I learned to fly right away. My journey is really about transportation in general but aviation in particular. Like most airport people these days, my goal was to become a commercial pilot at first, but I realized that I love airports as much as I do.
Williams is the third Deputy Executive Director of the Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) in DRBA history. As DRBA’s deputy executive director and ILG’s airport director, Williams wears many hats.
“I have control over all economic development,” Williams said. “That includes communications, marketing, public information and governance. I also serve as secretary of the board. As airport director, I have five airports that DRB manages – two in New Jersey and three here in Delaware. That’s really for people in the aviation industry, people who have airplanes. , includes growth and access to people who partner with us and people in the civil defense part of the business, whether that means the Air National Guard or the military.
“We host VIP flights,” Williams added. “As you know, Wilmington is the president’s (Joe Biden) home airport and he’s home a lot. Our stretch goals are air service development, cargo development, and things that create jobs and economic impact on the community. So the airports and What I do on behalf of the authority is to create opportunities for economic impact and growth.In Delaware’s definition, that means creating what I call measures of access to jobs, access to transportation and quality of life.
“When I came to work in Delaware in 2005, I was struck by the fact that the missing piece was air transportation and people not having to travel to Pennsylvania, Maryland or New Jersey,” Williams said. “If this was located in Delaware, it was something we would do. [the] A much better quality of life here. So, here were my number one and number two items on our list of things to do.
Williams’ passion for aviation, combined with his 40 years of experience in the field, gives him a unique perspective on why accessibility for all is important.
“I will work hard to make aviation and air transportation accessible to the common man and woman,” he said. “When I was young, the idea of going abroad and flying was a big thing. I remember when I was 9 years old, my mother made me wear a suit and tie to fly on a plane to where I am now. [flown] – Caribbean. [In] At that time, aviation was not as accessible to everyone as Greyhound buses were. What has happened is to look at how transport and air services have improved. Due to the lack of environmental protection and government control on the economic side, it has become accessible to everyone. It has increased the number of people traveling significantly, and has made airports focus on customer service. For people like me who try to match those two things – trying to match the airline with the airport environment and trying to make the travel experience better for everyone overall, the work is done.
One of the ways Williams helps make air travel accessible and affordable is through ILG’s partnership with Avelo Airlines.
“The airline is partnering with us — we’re both interested in doing this,” Williams said. “It’s something you see in terms of the effort, the cooperation, the community involvement, and we’re going to continue to do things to make sure that the broader Wilmington community knows it’s their hometown airport. Avello was also good at providing special codes.
Currently, Avello Airlines offers nonstop jet service from Wilmington to five Florida destinations: Orlando, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Fort Myers.
“What the airline wants to do is build on that by adding more nonstop flights,” Williams said. “Currently, there are two flights a day to different destinations. So, what you’re going to see is adding more daily frequencies to a variety of destinations and maybe for the first time steadily increasing to non-Florida cities like Chicago, Nashville, Myrtle Beach, Charleston and the cities where the largest region is located. He said.
“We know the people are here, we know the size is here, we know the per capita income is here, we know the propensity to travel is here,” he said. “We had to match all of that with airlines that want to be here to airlines that want to go to Delaware where they want to go.”
For more information about Wilmington Airport (ILG) and to see what special services are available, visit: www.flyilg.com and www.aveloair.com.