By JESSICA WETZLER
Daily News-Record 12/11/19
Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport is sporting purple and gold after James Madison University President Jonathan Alger announced a new partnership with the Weyers Cave airport.
As of Thursday, SVRA is the official airport of JMU, with Alger telling faculty and staff that the partnership is “a great example of how institutions of higher education can have exponential impact on community growth as JMU strives to become the national model of the engaged university.”
Alger also wrote in an email to faculty and staff that the partnership would improve efficiency, productivity and cost savings for the university when considering total travel costs.
Heather Ream, director of marketing and communications for SVRA, said that due to the partnership, travelers at SVRA can expect to see changes in the terminal soon.
The SVRA commission awarded a contract to Lantz Construction during its Nov. 20 meeting to build a secure area partition — a removable glass wall that would be installed in the passenger lobby to allow flexibility to increase the size of the post-screening gate and lobby area during peak flight periods.
Greg Campbell, executive director of SVRA, said the current area can get crowded on full flight days and does not provide sufficient space to ensure an “exceptional passenger experience.” Campbell said the addition would allow the airport the flexibility it needs to accommodate larger aircraft with more passengers for current charters and future service providers, which may use aircraft larger than the 50-seat jets operated by SkyWest.
The cost of the partition project is estimated at $213,000, with 80% funded by the state. The airport would be responsible for the other 20%, Campbell
The airport also introduced new flights to Washington-Dulles and an improved schedule to Chicago O’Hare starting Dec. 4, which was made possible by the SVRA Air Service Task Force, according to Ream.
“[Task Force] Ambassadors are focusing their efforts on increasing awareness of SVRA air service with one common message: incorporating SVRA into your travel plans is critical for positive economic development efforts and enhanced quality of life,” Ream said. “Ambassadors communicate directly with JMU Alumni, travel agencies, event planners, local elected officials and regional business and community leaders.”
Nicholas Swartz, associate dean of Professional and Continuing Education at JMU and chair of the Air Service Task Force, said the partnership was “critical for the future success of the university as we work to attract exceptional students, faculty and staff; engage with our constituents; and pursue JMU’s vision of being the national model of the engaged university.”