eandslee

Richmond International Airport

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I just thought that since this is a Richmond forum, it wouldn't be too "Richmond" without mentioning our airport, which is undergoing a huge growth project. The biggest problem facing Richmond International is that the price to fly in and out of the airport is one of the highest you will see in the nation. What Richmond lacks is a discount air carrier. Southwest Airlines promised that it would begin service in Richmond before 9/11, but since then, has postponed its Richmond plans indefinitely. JetBlue mentioned as late as last year that it had desires to begin service in Richmond in 2005. Since that piece of press was published, nothing new has surfaced. I still hold out that something really good will happen to Richmond International very soon especially considering the financial troubles the mainstream airlines are facing now. When/If they drop out, another airline will have to pick up the slack where they will leave off, giving other airlines HUGE possiblities in Richmond! With the current terminal expansion and revamping of the entire look of the airport, etc., the doors are wide open to some big possiblities. Not to mention, there are already almost $1 million set aside for "free" advertising for the first discount air carrier that lands at Richmond International. I can't believe an airline has yet to jump on that, but I have a feeling they will be coming very soon. Anyway, here is a link to our airport and below are some photos of our gateway to the skies:

www.flyrichmond.com

An areial view:

ricmterminal.jpg.59492.jpg

The "big picture":

Richmond%20Intl.jpg

Edited by eandslee

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I think its actually $2 million in free assistance to the airline that sets up shop here.

Also since Delta lowered its fares at Richmond and other airports, RIC has been breaking records for the number of passengers coming through the airport, month after month after month. It proves that if the prices are more comparable to other airports, the Richmond air market can definitely do better than it has in the past. We usually end up flying out of Dulles because its cheaper. If Richmond could compete pricewise however, you better believe I'd choose RIC over Dulles any day. Landing a discount carrier would definitely benefit Richmond. It's only a matter of time. The Airport construction is also coming along and definitely worth applauding as well.

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How are the passenger numbers doing? I know Norfolk is up some 10% again this year, so we should approach 4 million passengers. Last time I checked Richmond has yet to break the 3 million mark.

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How are the passenger numbers doing? I know Norfolk is up some 10% again this year, so we should approach 4 million passengers. Last time I checked Richmond has yet to break the 3 million mark.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I think Richmond is up about 10-20% each month since Delta lowered fares...I'll try to get more concrete stats though.

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The latest stat I can find is on the Richmond International website that says that in 2000 it served 2.7 million people. Surely that figure is up by now being that it is 5 years later, even despite 9/11.

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The latest stat I can find is on the Richmond International website that says that in 2000 it served 2.7 million people.  Surely that figure is up by now being that it is 5 years later, even despite 9/11.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Every month since november has been record breaking for RIC. I think we have by far outdone 2000.

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MAJOR NEWS FOR RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT.....

ON FRIDAY APRIL 7, THE AIRPORT WILL OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCE THAT AIRTRANS WILL BE COMING TO TOWN....MORE DETAILS LATER

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MAJOR NEWS FOR RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT.....

ON FRIDAY APRIL 7, THE AIRPORT WILL OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCE THAT AIRTRANS WILL BE COMING TO TOWN....MORE DETAILS LATER

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Hey, where did you hear this??? This is GREAT NEWS, if it's true!! This is what Richmond has been waiting for for years!!!! Well, since Air Tran left RIC in 1998!! I sure hope they come back!!!

BTW, is it April 7th, which is Thursday, or is it Friday April 8th?

Edited by eandslee

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...and just to add a bit of good news to excellent news mentioned previously, it appears that Richmond International has set another all time February record for customers served for its 3rd month in a row!:

http://www.flyrichmond.com/Download_Files/...5%203inaRow.pdf

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Sorry, it is on Friday....thats also great news about record setting passenger counts. Channel 6 had an exclusive and I saw it on RCW.

I think the success of the airport is one thing that can springboard success for the whole region....first philip morris now this....I'm stoked!

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Here is a statement released by email:

Your Attendance is Requested!

MAJOR AIR SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT for RICHMOND

Please help the Capital Region Airport Commission and the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce welcome our newest arrival at a Major Air Service Announcement press conference. The details:

What: MAJOR AIR SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

When: FRIDAY, APRIL 8, 2005, 10:30 a.m.

Where: GREATER RICHMOND CONVENTION CENTER, MEETING ROOM E10A

(Conveniently located on the first level near the parking deck.)

Parking in the convention center parking deck located at the corner of 3rd St. and Marshall St. will be provided without charge.

Airtran will be announced at the press conference. Major news for the area and I think they may receive the free ad money that has been offered up. :):)

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This from Richmond.com

Commission to make announcement regarding new airline in Richmond

Richmond.com 

Thursday, April 07, 2005 

Capital Region Airport Commission is expected to make a major air service announcement tomorrow morning regarding a new airline at Richmond International Airport.

U.S. Congressman Eric Cantor (R-7th) will attend the press conference at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, along with James B. Donati Jr., chairman of the Capital Region Airport Commission; Spence Hamrick, chairman of the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce and Art Warren, chairman of the Greater Richmond Partnership.

Numerous reports speculate AirTran Airways will be the new carrier. Calls to the airline have not been returned.

The article

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More details from the Times-Dispatch:

I cut out some portions of the article, the full one is here

AirTran cleared for landing

Richmond International finally lands low-fare airline

BY CHIP JONES

TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER

Apr 7, 2005

Richmond International Airport has finally landed a low-fare airline.

AirTran Airways is poised to announce nonstop service to Atlanta, and a nonstop flight to Philadelphia that goes on to Boston, beginning in mid-June.

The airline also plans nonstop service from Richmond to Orlando, Fla., by mid-November, according to sources familiar with the deal.But airport officials were tight-lipped today about the event, which promises to deliver welcome news to cost-weary travelers who have long complained about Richmond International's high fares.

For years, Richmond has ranked in the top 5 cities in the nation for high fares.

Informed sources said AirTran, which left Richmond in the late 1990s, plans to return with new aircraft and a revamped reputation for service.

Last week, the airport commission approved a plan to offer up to $500,000 in marketing support for any airline with new service from Richmond.

The Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce has also offered matching funds for marketing new air service.

AirTran is expected to be the recipient of the funds from local, federal and private sources.

The need for low-fare competition was dramatically highlighted by a study last year that showed more than 1 million travelers a year -- or about 34 percent of the region's core travel base -- were driving away to find cheaper fares at six other airports in the region.

This included Newport News/Williamsburg International, which has been served by AirTran for several years through a subsidy with the city of Newport News.

It was not known today what, if any, impact the Richmond announcement might have on that service.

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I can't say it enough...this is GREAT news! So it looks like the destination cities from Richmond will be Philadelphia and on to Boston, Atlanta (of course, since it is the major hub), and Orlando, FL by November. The only other thing I could wish for would be even more cities served through Richmond without going through Atlanta first. Hell, even having Richmond be a small Air Tran hub would be VERY nice! I would love to see that day!!! Maybe more destinations will be announced tomorrow that the article didn't allude to. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed! I knew some airline would jump onto Richmond very soon considering how much money was up for grabs for advertising! Not to down play Air Tran at all, but it's a shame Southwest Airlines (who Richmond has been courting for years now), didn't jump on it first! Maybe they'll land in Richmond later on this year! That would be a HUGE boost - no more driving to other cities to catch a flight anywhere...domestically, at least!!!

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Richmond really has been trying to get Southwest which would be absolutely incredible. But I think Airtran is a great step in the right direction. Southwest's plans were put on hold because of 9/11. Maybe if Airtran gets a hot reception, Southwest will want part of the action...

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From Friday's times-dispatch article... I'll try to hit on the points that haven't been made already since the announcement isn't until tomorrow morning:

With plans to use full-sized Boeing 717-200 jets -- with 117 seats, including business class -- AirTran could attract passengers tired of cramming into 37-seat and 50-seat "regional jets" used by most airlines.

"You have people who don't like regional jets," said George Hoffer, an economics professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who follows the airline industry. "So as Richmond goes to more regional jets, AirTran can actually claim that it's the only carrier with full jet service over the entire system."

But cheaper fares are expected to be the carrier's biggest draw.

At AirTran's closest departure point -- Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport -- its round-trip fares to Atlanta have been as low as $118 in recent months.

Several airport commissioners either didn't return calls yesterday or declined to comment.

Beverley W. "Booty" Armstrong, a Richmond businessman and veteran airport commissioner, also declined to name the new airline.

But his enthusiasm was evident as he said, "It's the single proudest thing I can remember since I've been on the airport commission" since the late 1990s.

The high cost of air travel in Richmond has been a major obstacle to attracting and keeping businesses, officials said. "That's why this is such an event," Armstrong said. "It really does open a new vista for economic development in Richmond."

Gregory Wingfield, president of the Greater Richmond Partnership, the public-private corporate recruiter, refused to name the airline. But he said today's ceremony would culminate about a decade of hard work by business and airport officials.

"We've lost deals in the past because airline ticket pricing has not been competitive," Wingfield said. "It's been a kind of Achilles heel."

....Signs of a deal started to emerge last week after the regional airport commission adopted a set of spending guidelines for a $950,000 grant awarded last summer by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

At the time, the grant was touted as a way to finance a two-year-long marketing effort by an low-fare carrier that brings new service.

The Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce promised to raise another $760,000, and along with other local and state funds, the airport said it could have a $2.1 million marketing war chest.

ewport News airport spokeswoman Sarah Sager said yesterday that her office had not been contacted by AirTran about its plans in Richmond, about an hour's drive away. With 10 flights a day, AirTran has often attracted Richmond area travelers looking for bargains on flights to New York City and Atlanta.

Sources said Richmond airport officials would like to get AirTran to serve New York from here. But the airline doesn't have any available boarding gates at New York-area airports.

Two other discount carriers have expressed interest in coming here: Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways, which got the top rating for customer service. Officials at both carriers said yesterday that AirTran's entrance would not affect their business decisions. Todd Burke, director of corporate communications at JetBlue, said AirTran's move "doesn't make any difference to us."

JetBlue's top executive has told Gov. Mark R. Warner that he would like to start air service here before Warner leaves office early next year.

One notable thing to point out is the fact that Jet Blue has specifically told Warner it wants to start service in Richmond by the time he is out of office. That, would be icing on the cake :)

Edited by wrldcoupe4

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A quote from the AirTran story: "The number of passengers at the Richmond airport reached 2,496,230 in 2004."

So Richmond STILL hasn't recovered from 9/11!? :o

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

OK, I'll "buy" that fact, but I think that's all about to change starting June 23!! Here's the latest from the announcement today:

AirTran starts flying June 23

Richmond Times-Dispatch

Apr 8, 2005

AirTran Airways will begin daily nonstop service between Richmond International Airport and Atlanta, as well as to Philadelphia with connections to Boston, on June 23, the airline announce today.

Officials released the flight schedule of the new service reported today in The Times-Dispatch, with four flights a day to Atlanta starting at 6:30 a.m. and two flights to Philadelphia starting at 7:05 a.m.

The Florida-based airline announced a lowest coach fare of $158 to Atlanta and $118 to Philadelphia.

AirTran also announced plans to add nonstop service between Richmond and Orlando starting Nov. 8.

The airline said its fares would be posted today on its Web site at www.airtran.com.

"We see an opportunity to bring high-quality, low-fare service to travelers in Richmond, and we're pleased to be able to offer that option," said Robert L. Fornaro, AirTran's president and chief operating officer.

Airport and business officials see AirTran's entry into Richmond as a major turning point for an airport losing an estimated 1 million passengers a year to other airports because of the high air fares here.

AirTran officials stressed that the carrier has had a complete transformation since 1999, when it was a struggling airline trying to get past the bad publicity that followed the crash of a ValuJet aircraft in 1996.

Using relatively new and spacious Boeing 717-200 aircraft, an airline official said, "We came back to be able to compete and get the business traveler"

***Richmond is even on the Air Tran website now as a destination, so start booking today!!!***

Edited by eandslee

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Here's the latest from Air Tran themselves with a schedule and fare prices! Looks very promising!

AirTran Airways Announces Newest Destination - Richmond

Daily Nonstop Service to/from Atlanta and Philadelphia Starts June 23, 2005

Daily Nonstop Service to/from Orlando Starts November 8, 2005

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 8, 2005) - AirTran Airways, a subsidiary of AirTran Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: AAI), today announced the airline will commence new daily nonstop service to Richmond International Airport from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport with continuing service to Boston's Logan International Airport, beginning June 23, 2005. AirTran Airways will also add nonstop service between Richmond and Orlando International Airport beginning November 8, 2005. These routes will be served by the airline's popular Boeing 717 aircraft with 12 Business Class and 105 coach seats.

"We see an opportunity to bring high-quality, low-fare service to travelers in Richmond, and we're pleased to be able to offer that new option," said Robert L. Fornaro, AirTran Airways' president and chief operating officer. "These flights will provide Richmond with a much needed low-fare option, with nonstop service to Atlanta, Orlando and Philadelphia, as well as convenient connections to more than 40 other destinations across the country with our all new, all-Boeing fleet."

"The Greater Richmond Region enthusiastically welcomes AirTran Airways to our community," said Capital Region Airport Commission Chairman James B. Donati. "AirTran's quality service and low fares will provide a great option for Richmond travelers to and from many of our most demanded destinations."

AirTran Airways will offer the following new daily nonstop flight options to/from Richmond starting June 23, 2005:

Nonstop Service from Richmond:

To Departs Arrives Frequency

Atlanta 6:30 a.m. 8:30 a.m. Daily (effective June 24)

Atlanta 11:10 a.m. 12:55 p.m. Daily

Atlanta 1:40 p.m. 3:20 p.m. Daily

Atlanta 6:05 p.m. 7:55 p.m. Daily

Orlando 12:00 p.m. 1:55 p.m. Daily (effective Nov. 8)

Philadelphia 7:05 a.m. 8:05 a.m. Daily (effective June 24)

Philadelphia 4:00 p.m. 5:00 p.m. Daily

Nonstop Service to Richmond:

From Departs Arrives Frequency

Atlanta 11:30 a.m. 1:05 p.m. Daily

Atlanta 2:00 p.m. 3:25 p.m. Daily

Atlanta 4:00 p.m. 5:30 p.m. Daily

Atlanta 9:00 p.m. 10:30 p.m. Daily

Orlando 1:20 p.m. 3:15 p.m. Daily (effective Nov. 8)

Philadelphia 9:25 a.m. 10:35 a.m. Daily

Philadelphia 7:05 p.m. 8:20 p.m. Daily

Listed below are sample one-way fares (fares are valid in either direction) to/from Richmond:

Introductory

Fare Lowest Business

Walk-Up Class

Atlanta $79 $199 $234

Philadelphia $59 $149 $184

AirTran Airways, one of America's largest low-fare airlines with 6,000 friendly, professional Crew Members, operates over 500 daily flights to more than 40 destinations. The airline's hub is at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where it is the second largest carrier. AirTran Airways recently added the fuel-efficient Boeing 737-700 aircraft to create America's youngest all-Boeing fleet. The airline is also the first carrier to install XM Satellite Radio on a commercial aircraft. For reservations or more information, visit airtran.com (America Online Keyword: AirTran).

Edited by eandslee

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Photos of aircraft to service Richmond (Boeing 717):

full_JET_07.jpg

Interior Photo:

shot6.jpg

And seating arrangment:

seats717_top.gif

seats717_bottom.gif

Edited by eandslee

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Richmond has recovered from 9/11. Maybe not for a full year yet, but since december of 2004, Richmond has had record setting passenger numbers back to back to back.

Passengertotals.bmp

Thats February's passenger history from a news release from the airport as a comparison.

Edited by wrldcoupe4

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looks like we will hear more good news about passenger numbers tomorrow:

"Airport construction moving inside

Richmond Times-Dispatch

Apr 26, 2005

Just when many travelers have gotten used to revamped entrance roads and parking at Richmond International Airport, they will face a new set of obstacles inside the terminal.

Plans this summer to move the downstairs baggage carousels from one end of the building to the other raised concern and discussion at today's meeting of the Capital Region Airport Commission.

The interior work -- part of the construction of a new $46.8 million terminal -- happens to coincide with the start of service by low-fare carrier AirTran Airways in late June. The new service is expected to swell the ranks of travelers.

"With longer lines at the ticket counters, it's going to be harder to get through," said Beverley "Booty" Armstrong, an airport commissioner from Richmond.

Airport officials are considering hiring a few guides to help travelers who have problems finding their way inside the terminal construction zone.

Look for more on this, and good news on boardings at Richmond International, in tomorrow's Times-Dispatch."

Article can be found here

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Thanks for posting the above "heads up" on the article. I'm always very interested in hearing any good news from the airport. I'll be on the look out for this article in tomorrows RTD.

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Well, here's the article we were waiting for. Looks like there are some numbers forecast in the article in regards to Air Trans affect on the number of passengers that will be using Richmond International. Looks like we'll be exceeding the 3.2 million passenger mark by next year (June). What a vast improvement that will be! I'm excited. Now I would love to be able to land Jetblue and Southwest airlines at RIC...that would just kick ass!

Growing pains for airport

With AirTran expected to increase ridership, renovations sprout doubt

BY CHIP JONES

TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER

Apr 27, 2005

Just when many people have gotten used to revamped entrance roads and parking decks at Richmond International Airport, a new set of obstacles is on the horizon.

Click Here.

Plans to move the downstairs baggage claim area from one end of the terminal building to the other -- with more major disruptions ahead -- sparked caution and concern at yesterday's Capital Region Airport Commission meeting.

Several commissioners said they are worried that the start of much of the interior work in the airport's $46.8 million terminal construction project coincides with the June launch of the low-fare airline, AirTran Airways.

AirTran's fares to Atlanta and Philadelphia are expected to add 300,000 passenger boardings in the first year of service. With an equal number of new arrivals, the airport's passenger base is expected to jump from 2.6 million to 3.2 million by next June.

"With longer lines at the ticket counters, it's going to be harder to get through," said airport commissioner Beverley "Booty" Armstrong.

Fellow commissioner Robert Norfleet Jr. said it's important to let the traveling public know that the airport is going to be going through a difficult growth spurt in the next two years.

"We have put the flying public through a fairly extensive building and construction program the last two years, and I don't think they're fully aware we're about ready to put them through even more in the way of construction, and quite frankly a problem in using the airport easily," he said.

Besides the specter of overcrowding near ticket counters and baggage areas, the commission pondered possible backups at second floor screening areas. The commissioners added $2.1 million to the current budget to help fund a $10.4 million widening project -- adding two lanes to each of the security areas that lead to the A and B concourses.

But that yearlong project also could cause some disruption once it begins in 2006.

Jon Mathiasen, the airport's president and chief executive officer, told the commission that the agency that oversees security screeners -- the Transportation Security Administration -- been getting "significantly bogged down" in Washington with debates over funding and hiring levels.

But he praised the local TSA office's cooperation, and said he is talking with officials about adding screeners once AirTran lifts off.

"We don't want it to be an issue," Mathiasen said, adding, "If we don't think we have adequate staffing, we will seek congressional support."

Currently, the Richmond TSA is authorized to have 111 employees at the airport, according to federal security director Thomas W. Davis Jr., who said he is evaluating staffing levels to meet the expected spike in passengers.

But it was the more immediate problem of moving people through the terminal construction zone that was uppermost on some commissioners' minds.

Armstrong worried that "half of that first floor will be out of service" when work begins in June, when the baggage carousels must be moved.

"You have that going on," Norfleet said, "People could get very depressed."

Any inconveniences should be kept in perspective, though, Armstrong said. "We've been behind the curve for decades." If AirTran has the expected impact -- sparking fare competition and increasing ridership -- Richmond International can now "operate ahead of the curve" and become "a first-class airport," he said.

The baggage carousels will be moved to the south end of the terminal in a vacant area past the Delta Air Lines ticket counters, and beyond AirTran's new counter space.

Mathiasen said he may hire two to three part-time guides to help direct any lost or confused travelers. The commission requested a more detailed report next month.

Mathiasen said any construction-related issues are manageable. "Getting to the ticket counter, it may be a little more crowded," he said. "But I don't think it will be a problem" as long as the airport puts up the right kinds of signs and barricades.

"I think there was more difficulty when we made road changes" in the past few years, he said.

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I really hope that after seeing AirTran's success, that Jet Blue and/or Southwest will begin service at RIC. Jet Blue's CEO said he intended to begin service in Richmond by the time Warner leaves office early next year. Southwest had planned to come to Richmond a few years back, but then 9/11 happened. If we could attract one or both to Richmond, I think it would be a boon for the entire area. Plus if prices were low enough, I wouldnt have to fly out of Dulles whenever I go somewhere!

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