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Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport encouraging people to fly local to attract more flights

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ROANOKE (WSLS10) - The Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport is losing an alarming number of flyers to other airports as travelers look for more affordable flights, according to airport officials.

On Monday, airport leaders presented their proposed budget to the Roanoke City Council. They said the roughly $9 million operating budget is flat compared to last year. Airport leaders said it's tough to plan for upgrades when they are losing riders to surrounding areas.

The Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport does not receive funding from the county or the city. Officials said they rely on revenues and grants to make improvements.

The airport loses close to 90,000 passengers a year to areas like Charlotte and Greensboro, NC, according to Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport staff.

Executive Director of the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport Tim Bradshaw told city leaders that it's been a challenge trying to increase services due to shrinking revenues.

"The airlines are content with the level of service they have here in Roanoke," said Bradshaw.

He also said that in order to attract more flights, ridership must increase. Marketing officials at the airport said they plan to focus on improving service reliability to encourage people to fly local.

In addition, airport leaders are working with airlines to identify connection opportunities on the West Coast.

"For example, we are trying to go to Dallas non-stop and we have the passengers to support that service," said Bradshaw.

Bradshaw said, on average, about 130 people a day fly between Roanoke and Dallas. He said offering incentives such as waiving landing fees could help attract more flights, but in the end, Bradshaw said it comes down to the numbers.

"Really air service is dependent upon the consumers, if they buy the tickets the airplanes will come," explained Bradshaw.