Thursday, February 29, 2024

‘If we can make 50% of 2019, we’ll be in good shape’: NN/Williamsburg airport director

The entrance to Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport in Newport News. (WYDaily file)
The entrance to Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport in Newport News. (WYDaily file)

The coronavirus pandemic has caused many businesses to suffer, including airports.

Take for instance the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport.

Airport Executive Director Michael Giardino told Williamsburg City Council members Monday that prior to the pandemic the airport was doing “very well” and they planned to announce another airline.

Then the coronavirus hit…and stayed.

“Revenues dropped 99 percent,” he said, adding the airport mostly relies on parking and rental cars. “Revenues were down half a million dollars a month.”

He said in the third week of March, analysis showed 9/11’s recovery efforts were “more rapid” than the great recession recovery from 33 months to 5 years.

The airport had a “bleed rate” of $398,000 and tried to cut costs like insurance. Ultimately, they ended up laying off 46 people.

The airport previously received $5 million to build a taxiway and reconstruct the taxiway lighting, according to Federal Aviation Administration’s list of grantees.

Giardino said other factors which affected the airport was the Ken Spirito scandal and the Boeing 737 MAX delay.

Giardino noted the airport got $4.1 million from the CARES Act, too.

“We’re actually going to end fiscal year 2021 better than when we started,” he said. “If we can make 50 percent of 2019, we’ll be in good shape.”

Council members weighed in on his comments, asking questions like how the airport planned on getting more leisure passengers and when Delta would come back to the airport.

Giardino said he is working to recruit airlines, including Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit because of their low fares.

Giardino was not sure when Delta would resume service at the airport but noted through the CARES Act, airlines could consolidate their service at one airport, in this case Norfolk, and those airlines forced to stay at smaller airports could leave after Sept 30.

“So all bets are off after that,” he added.

As for safety measures, he said there are hand sanitizer stations, floor markers for people to use, Plexiglass has been installed and masks can be worn. The airport has a new ad on the radio to let people know the airport is clean.

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Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsiglianohttp://wydaily.com
Julia Marsigliano is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She covers everything on the Peninsula from local government and law enforcement agencies to family-run businesses and weather updates. Before WYDaily, she covered Hampton and Newport News for WYDaily’s sister publication, HNNDaily before both publications merged in December 2018. Julia was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Long Island, New York in 2001. A true New Yorker, she loves pizza, bagels and good Chinese food. Send comments, tips and other tidbits to julia@localvoicemedia.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @jmarsigliano

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