NEWPORT NEWS, Va. The holiday season tends to see an increase in air travel demand, but this holiday season is already proving to be a challenge for Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport.
The airport is expecting an influx of military service members flying out of the airport with fewer seats than in previous years.
“We need more seats to accommodate our soldiers,” said Jenifer Spratley, director of marketing for the airport, pleading with the airlines. “We are simply underestimated, we are an insufficient airport and our soldiers are being underestimated during this holiday season.”
Spratley said approximately 400 members of the service travel from Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport also known as PHF from its International Air Transport Association code – during the holiday season. The airlines have usually provided 700 seats, but this year the airport is looking at approximately 300 seats.
“And that’s a big part of our journey,” Spratley said.
That figure is a mix of service members and other passengers, though Spratley added service members leave on days known as “block breaks.”
“We approached American Airlines and Delta to share that information with them to emphasize how important it is for our soldiers to return home,” Spratley said.
Both airlines have a presence at the airport, but American Airlines is the only airline to offer scheduled service. Delta suspended their service due to the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year.
News 3 reached out to both airlines to see if they would offer any additional services to accommodate outgoing service members.
In a statement, American Airlines said, “At this time we have no plans for additional services, but we always valued our network based on supply and demand.”
“At this time we have no plans for additional services, but we always valued our network based on supply and demand. Next month we will have up to six daily flights to and from PHF from our Philadelphia (PHL) and Charlotte (CLT) centers. ), which offers many optimal opportunities and connections throughout our wide area network “.
American Airlines Corporate Communications
She went on to say that they will have six total flights in December to Charlotte and Philadelphia.
In another statement from Delta, the airline said, “We are constantly monitoring demand trends and rebuilding our network as demand resumes.
We have suspended service to Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport due to low demand affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are constantly monitoring demand trends and rebuilding our network as demand resumes.
Delta Airlines Corporate Communications
They have to go home and they will find a way to go home, and we do not want them to be on the road driving, Spratley said. “We would like to have more places flying from PHF so that we can accommodate their needs, so we are not very happy about that.”
News 3 also asked Norfolk International Airport if they anticipate the same issues. She said she does not at this time.
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