Roanoke airport travel slowly increasing, but pandemic recovery could take years

‘You build the air service up and then COVID comes along and blows everything up’

A plane takes off from the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport.
A plane takes off from the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport. (WSLS)

ROANOKE, Va. – The parking lot was packed and suitcases stuffed as holiday travelers file in and out of the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport on Tuesday morning.

Jeff Richards was flying back home to Montana after a two-week visit to Christiansburg. He’s not worried about traveling during the pandemic.

“Everybody in my family has already had COVID-19 and we’re all through it. So this doesn’t bother me a bit,” said Richards.

Nancy Womack was flying to Florida to visit her daughter.

“I have not seen her for a year,” said Womack.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, capacity is down by 40% and the number of fliers is about 50% what it was before.

2019 saw a record number of flyers: 719,707. As of November this year: 268,334.

The airport’s director of marketing air service development, Brad Boettcher, said fewer travelers means deals to expand service to Dallas and Houston were put on hold.


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