In response to the extensive new airport traffic, the Port of Bellingham began an estimated $26 million runway expansion project in April 2010, the largest project ever undertaken by the port. Plans include rehabilitating and widening the runway and its adjacent taxiways to accommodate larger planes, such as the Boeing 757.
Before the runway extension, typical planes at Bellingham Airport included the 70-passenger De Havilland Dash 8 Q400, the mid-sized Boeing 737, and the 150-passenger Allegiant Air MD-80. As such, runway expansion was essentially the only viable way to bring in planes holding more than 200 passengers at a time.
The newly rebuilt runway is sturdy enough to accommodate Boeing 757 aircraft that can hold 220 passengers. Allegiant Air recently announced plans to acquire those planes for flights to Hawaii, although airline officials have been mum so far about where those flights would originate. Allegiant Air currently provides 150-passenger MD-80 service from Bellingham to Las Vegas, Mesa, and several California destinations.
Closing the Runways
The first runway expansion since 1941, the project closed the runways for 21 days as crews worked 24 hours a day laying down 174,000 tons of asphalt. The port also plans to begin work on a $3.1 million multi-year expansion of the terminal building’s pre-boarding lobby area.
Airport Importance & Services
Lauded by media in both Canada and Washington State for its ease of travel, parking, location, and discount flight prices, the Bellingham International Airport (BLI) has become a player on the transportation scene. BLI serves the commercial, general aviation, and corporate air transportation needs of the region. A full-service commercial airport located south of the U.S. / Canadian border, BLI is 90 miles north of Seattle, Washington, and only 39 minutes by commuter aircraft to SeaTac Airport.
Bellingham International Airport accommodates more than 200,000 travelers each year. Airport amenities include car rental and gift shop / bistro food services. Trade-related services at the airport include a foreign trade zone, customs brokerage, a U.S. Customs international terminal, and air cargo services.