Regional airports brace for less-than-average ridership for first holiday season during COVID-19

Posted at 5:45 AM, Nov 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-18 08:16:48-05

NORFOLK, Va. -- The Norfolk and Newport News-Williamsburg International Airports have seen a drop in ridership since the pandemic started. Both airports told News 3 they project this trend will continue into the holiday season.

"We were actually told by our health department experts that this would be a marathon and not a sprint,” Steve Sterling, the Deputy Executive Director for the Norfolk International Airport, said. “It was not surprising that it extended throughout the year."

Sterling said his airport is predicted to have roughly 50 percent fewer passengers flying out of the airport the holiday season.

At the Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport, the situation is expected to look bleaker.

"So I don't think we're going to see the numbers we saw last year,” Jenifer Spratley, the Marketing Director at the Newport News – Williamsburg International Airport, said. “Obviously we don't have the same number of seats this year so we will see some decrease in travel this year."

Newport News – Williamsburg International already saw Delta suspend service and Spratley added there will be roughly five flights a day this holiday season.

They also predict roughly 10,000 passengers this holiday season compared to 36,000 last year. Regardless, Spratley said they are hopeful.

“We already have strategies in place for the future,” Spratley said. “We're wiping off our marketing strategy and coming up with a whole new marketing plan."

Sterling shared the same feeling of optimism for Norfolk International.

"We are faring better than the industry as a whole,” Sterling said. “We're fortunate for the traffic that we have, for the airlines who have continued to provide service here in Norfolk."