Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport takes off

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While the airline industry has seen revenues and passenger traffic decline this year, Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport has been spreading its wings. The small airport in Weyers Cave has seen its passenger traffic increase by 7 percent over 2008, including a 20 percent jump in September.

To handle its growth, the airport has started rehabilitation and expansion projects.  “Our numbers are definitely trending in the right direction,” says Greg Campbell, the airport’s executive director.

Much of this progress is due to the airport’s decision in March 2008 to change carriers from U.S. Airways Express to United Express. The deal resulted in larger commuter planes (34 seats versus 19), a decrease in fares by as much as 40 percent and better connections to flights at Washington Dulles International Airport. Total passenger trips jumped from 9,200 in 2007 to 15,122 in 2008, a 64 percent increase.

“Because of the scheduling and pricing issues, a lot of local passengers were forced to get in their cars and drive to other airports,” Campbell states. “And so what we’ve been able to do is recapture a lot of those folks.”

Work has begun on a $1.2 million project to repave airport aprons near the main terminal and around corporate terminals where aircraft load and unload passengers. The project is being funded in part by a $1 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program.

The airport also recently completed a $1.9 million project involving a new taxiway and some site improvements that will allow the eventual construction of three large corporate hangars. Currently, all existing corporate hangars are full, despite the economic conditions.

“We anticipate that as the economy begins to turn, we’re going to see demand for those types of facilities,” Campbell says.

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