The Lehigh Valley International Airport security line remains empty on Oct. 27. The airport is located in Whitehall, 15 minutes from Lehigh University. (Zoe Aaron / B&W Staff).

Lehigh Valley International Airport completes expansion


Lehigh Valley International Airport expansion has been completed and new projects are being planned.  

The $35 million expansion of the airport consists of a new terminal, improved safety measures, additional lanes for a security checkpoint, and easier access for the efficiency of travel and operations. 

Originally placed in 1974 in the ground tunnel between airline check-ins and airport gates, the security checkpoint expansion project was completed in July 2023, after years of planning and coordinating with the Federal Travel Association. 

Pennsylvania Rep. Susan Wild helped plan, coordinate and provide funds for the project.

“I’ve been talking to the airport since I first got to Congress about improvements that were needed,” Wild said. “I started these conversations back in 2019.”

The efficiency of traffic throughout the airport, individuals’ safety and well-being, and the overall experience of both TSA security and passengers were all major factors going into this project. 

From two to three lanes, the additional space above the underground tunnel has permitted of 450 passengers per hour to 700 passengers per hour. 

Wild’s team pushed for the airport terminal program to receive the funding needed to complete the project.

Ultimately, a $5 million grant was given to the airport under the new Bipartisan Infrastructure Law by the Federal Travel Association.  

Wild said the new law elevates the use of resources to help reduce toxins in the air, and she said the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said this was the first project that was funded, constructed and completed under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. 

The airport also now features a purification system called LifeAire which is manufactured in the Lehigh Valley. 

“It’s usually used in hospitals, but we’re the first airport in the world to have one,” said Colin Riccobon, the director of public and government relations for the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority.

Riccobon said the pandemic slowed the construction of the project and created roadblocks for the team members and construction workers. 

Many different challenges, including supply chain issues, working with masks and the pandemic itself, prolonged the building time for the project. 

As a result, Riccobon said the teams had to adjust the plan and prepare should something like the pandemic occur again.

“We were trying to implement and incorporate different things in different products,” Riccobon said. “If this ever happened again, we will be prepared to combat it.” 

Along with this, the transportation time and outward presentation of the Lehigh Valley International Airport have been improved with greeneries and fresh pavement. 

Eddie Easton, a sophomore from Georgia Southern University, is a frequent flier between the Lehigh Valley International Airport and the Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. 

“As someone who lived in Atlanta and (has gone) through Hartsfield Jackson and Allentown, it’s a totally different experience (than Atlanta),” Easton said. “You pretty much throw your bags down and you go through the security terminal, and it’s five seconds in and out.” 

Lauren Durant, ‘26, also travels from the Lehigh Valley International Airport and said there is less of a need to arrive early because the airport is not as large as other airports and there are only so many flights offered.

“There’s not much really going on, whereas in other airports there’s a lot of walking to do,” Durant said. 

A new hotel is also planned to be built on the property along with air cargo operations. 

“We had 237 million pounds of air cargo come through the airport last year, which was a record,” Riccobon said. “The airport not only serves passengers, but it serves the communities through air cargo.” 

Wild said additional routes throughout the airport are expected to be implemented, too. 

“In the not-too-distant future, we’re going to see additional routes out of that airport,” she said. “I think many, many people will be happy about it.”

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