Want to make Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport better? Leaders want your input on master plan

Master plan doesn’t directly touch on ticket prices, but changes could lead to lower fares

ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport leaders said they want to become a place where a business like Amazon would choose to build, expand opportunities for industrial commerce at the airport, and improve passenger service for years to come.

Those are some of the goals of the airport’s new master plan and on Tuesday night, it kicked off the public input round of the plan with high hopes.

As the airport continues to soar, a quick look around the property shows progress as construction crews move around and planes come and go. Capitalizing on that, airport executive director Tim Bradshaw said good plans need a good foundation.

“A lot of people look at this and think more about airline service, and while airline service is a component of the master plan this (is) really more about the capital infrastructure that we need to meet our growing demands," Bradshaw said.

Tuesday kicked off public input for the plan. Jorge Gonzalez’s is the project manager for the plan, his architecture and construction firm will assemble it, and said they can look at data for days, but community matters.

“What we’re trying to make sure is that all of that data that we’re looking at has the color, has the flavor, has the condiments that I call it, of the local region," Gonzalez said.

One of the major targets is runway expansion. Planes are getting bigger, the airport wants new destinations and while the current runways can do it, longer is better.

“A lot of people think about the runway length as the length you need to land an airplane when really it’s the takeoff distance. It’s an airplane full of fuel on a ninety-degree July day, how much runway they need to get to Dallas or Denver," Bradshaw said.

The airport doesn’t set ticket prices, but the upgrades they’re eyeing can lure passengers in, and as demand goes up, prices go down.

“It is basic economics, the more demand we have the more supply we’ll have and this master plan will help facilitate that growth," Bradshaw said.

You can submit your input online at the airport’s project website.