By JESSICA WETZLER
Daily News-Record 1/14/20
Since partnering with SkyWest in spring 2018, the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport has seen an increase in passenger traffic, but nothing compared to record-breaking year the airport had in 2019.
Total passenger traffic increased by 44% in 2019, according to Heather Ream, director of marketing and communications for the Weyers Cave airport.
“We broke all-time monthly passenger records three different times,” Ream said in an email.
The previous passenger traffic record by a single airline was set at 3,362 passengers in October 2018. The record was broken in July with 3,546 passengers, then in October with 3,696 and again in December with 3,721 passengers, Ream said. “Our December passenger traffic is the highest we’ve ever experienced in a month and a large portion of it took place around the holidays,” Ream said. “Our parking lot was full and flights were very full as well.”
During an airport commission meeting in October, Executive Director Gregory Campbell said October was the airport’s strongest month, showing promise that the increase in passengers would continue before heading into the winter decline.
“December was another record month for us,” Campbell said. “I am really pleased and hoping to see the trend continue this year.”
To meet passenger demand, SVRA announced new flights to Washington-Dulles International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport starting Dec. 4, opening up 900 additional seats per week.
With the expanded schedule, along with a partnership with James Madison University that named SVRA the official airport of JMU, a pleasing feeling is being left on Campbell.
“We are extremely pleased at the growth we continue to see,” Campbell said. “And we are pleased with the community support that led to new services in December.”
The airport also announced in November that some changes would be coming to the parking lot and lobby area.
Before the busier spring season arrives, the airport commission voted in November to rehabilitate the parking lots on both airline and general aviation sides. The project would be put out to bid and most likely completed in two phases, Campbell said.
The commission also awarded a contract to Lantz Construction 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.
“Over the past year, we have been experiencing full flights on a regular basis,” Campbell said in a previous interview with the Daily News-Record. “The current area can be a bit crowded on full flight days and does not provide sufficient space to ensure an exceptional passenger experience, which is our goal.”
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 said.