Lehigh Valley International Airport

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Lehigh Valley International Airport
Aerial photo of Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE), 2005
Airport type Public
Owner/Operator Lehigh–Northampton Airport Authority
Serves Lehigh Valley
Location Allentown, Pennsylvania Hanover, Township
Elevation AMSL 393 ft / 120 m
Coordinates Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Website flylvia.com
KABE is located in Pennsylvania
Location of Lehigh Valley International Airport
Direction Length Surface
ft m
06/24 7,600 2,316 Asphalt
13/31 5,797 1,767 Asphalt
Aircraft operations 100,048 (2,012)
Based aircraft 117 (2,012)
Total passengers (2014)[1] 582,000
Sources: airport website[2] and FAA[3]

Lehigh Valley International Airport (IATA: ABEICAO: KABEFAA LID: ABE) (formerly Allentown–Bethlehem–Easton International Airport) is a public airport in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. Parts of it are in Catasauqua and Allen Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania. It is 3 miles (5 km) northeast of Allentown, in the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania, the third most-populous metropolitan region in the state (after Philadelphia and Pittsburgh).

It is owned and operated by the Lehigh–Northampton Airport Authority. The number of people using the airport fell by 24.3% from 723,556 in FY2012 to 582,000 in FY2014[4] and the airport has seen steep declines in passenger usage since the early 2000s when annual traffic twice hit levels above 1,000,000 passengers.[5] For 2012 the FAA has categorized ABE airport as a "nonhub"[6] but in previous years the FAA categorized the airport as a "small hub".

The airport is about 75 driving miles from Philadelphia International Airport, 80 driving miles from Newark Liberty International Airport and 55 driving miles from Trenton-Mercer Airport.


Lehigh Valley International Airport opened in 1929 and is one of the very few in the nation 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 as a Works Projects Administration (WPA) 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 was 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 had been trained during 1943, and a large increase in the amount of civilian and military air traffic had occurred. 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 nonstop flights to Detroit started in 1986; regional partners replaced successor Northwest around 2003, as United's nonstop flights to Chicago had likewise been replaced around 2001. Delta started nonstop flights to Atlanta in 1991 and its partner took over in 2002.

In 1960 Vice President Richard Nixon and Senator John F. Kennedy made campaign stops at ABE.

Construction began on the present terminal in 1973 and the project, designed by Wallace & Watson, was completed in 1976.[7]

The most recent Terminal Renovations were done in two phases.

  • Phase I (April 2009). Cost: $7,253,235; PENNDOT grant amount: $3,000,000; general contractor: Lobar, Inc. (Dillsburg, PA); architect: Breslin, Ridyard, Fadero Architects (Allentown, PA); square footage of the Phase I project: 24,000 sq.ft., 7,000 sq.ft. of which is new space.
  • Phase II (November 2010). Cost: about $7,225,000; PENNDOT grant amount: $3,500,000; general contractor: E.R. Stuebner Construction, Inc. (Reading, PA); architect: Breslin, Ridyard, Fadero Architects (Allentown, PA); square footage of renovated space: 33,600 sq.ft.[8]

Facilities and aircraft

The airport covers 2,629 acres (1,064 ha) at an elevation of 393 feet (120 m). It has two asphalt runways: 6/24, 7,600 by 150 feet (2,316 x 46 m) and 13/31, 5,797 by 150 feet (1,767 x 46 m).[3] The airport has nine gates to service the passengers. The airport has five holding spots for cargo aircraft. Mainly Boeing 757 cargo aircraft fly in and out of the airport for FedEx.

The airport website says in 2012 the airport had 100,048 aircraft operations. Itinerant Operations include 30,914 general aviation, 17,241 Regional Airlines, 4,249 Major Airlines and 608 military. 47,036 were by local aircraft.

Airlines and destinations

Main terminal


Airlines Destinations
Allegiant Air Fort Myers/Punta Gorda, Orlando/Sanford, St. Petersburg/Clearwater
Seasonal: Myrtle Beach
American Eagle Charlotte, Philadelphia
Delta Air Lines Atlanta
Delta Connection Atlanta, Detroit
United Express Chicago–O'Hare


Airlines Destinations
Air Transport International
operated by ABX Air
Oakland, Wilmington (OH)
FedEx Express Indianapolis, Memphis
Seasonal: Manchester (NH)


Carrier shares: August 2014 - July 2015
Based on enplaned passengers both departing and arriving.[9]
Carrier Passengers (arriving and departing)

Top destinations

Top ten destinations: August 2014 – July 2015[9]
Rank City Airport Passengers Comments
1 Atlanta, GA Atlanta (ATL) 59,620 Delta Connection
2 Charlotte, NC Charlotte (CLT) 49,550 US Airways
3 Sanford, FL Orlando/Sanford (SFB) 48,920 Allegiant
4 Philadelphia, PA Philadelphia (PHL) 36,880 US Airways
5 Detroit, MI Detroit (DTW) 33,040 Delta
6 Chicago, IL Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) 31,730 United Express
7 St. Petersburg, FL St. Petersburg–Clearwater (PIE) 23,060 Allegiant
8 Punta Gorda, FL Punta Gorda/Fort Myers (PGD) 16,190 Allegiant
9 Myrtle Beach, SC Myrtle Beach (MYR) 7,710 Allegiant

Incidents and accidents

  • On September 19, 2008, Mesa Airlines Flight 7138, Bombardier CRJ700, was forced to make a high-speed aborted take off and swerve in order to avoid a collision with a Cessna 172 that had yet to exit the runway after landing. There were no fatalities or injuries. [10]
  • On June 27, 2009, Allegiant Air Flight 746, a McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft made an emergency landing after flames were observed coming from the aircraft's left engine. The flight was bound for Orlando Sanford International Airport. During takeoff one of the aircraft's tires had shredded and a piece was sucked into the engine, causing it to fail and momentarily catch on fire. The airliner landed safely minutes later with no injuries reported.[12]


  1. August 2013 - July 2014,http://www.transtats.bts.gov/airports.asp?pn=1&Airport=ABE
  2. Lehigh Valley International Airport, official website
  3. 3.0 3.1 FAA Airport Master Record for ABE (Form 5010 PDF), effective June 5, 2008
  4. http://flylvia.com/trafficeReports.html?#content-right
  5. The Morning Call, No U.S. Customs station at LVIA, but bluer skies may be ahead., Matt Assad, October 21, 2014, http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-allentown-airport-passenger-traffic-20141021-story.html
  6. an "non-hub" is an airport having more than 10,000 but less than 0.05% of the annual passenger boardings of all the commercial service airports in the USA"FAA Airport Categories".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "The A-B-E Airport" (PDF). Modern Steel Construction. New York: American Institute of Steel Construction. 15 (3): 6–7. 1975. Retrieved June 16, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Lehigh Valley International Airport Files Phase I and II 6102666001". Retrieved December 25, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton, PA: Lehigh Valley International (ABE)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics. April 2014. Retrieved April 17, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. https://www.ntsb.gov/news/2008/081119.html
  11. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081116/ap_on_re_us/emergency_landing
  12. "Plane makes emergency landing at Lehigh Valley International Airport".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Allentown 1762–1987 A 225-Year History, Volume Two, 1921–1987. Mahlon H. Hellerich, editor, Lehigh County Historical Society, 1987.

External links

Media related to Lehigh Valley International Airport at Wikimedia Commons