Barbara Hutchinson, Executive Director of the Charlottesville/Albemarle Airport, responds to the Business Travel Coalition’s press release earlier this week.
“Sorry to be replying so late. Interestingly enough, the local CBS Newsplex carried a story on this report, even though the Coalition has failed to return calls or requests for factual data utilized to comprise their conclusions. It is hard to believe their prediction for the demise of virtually every commercial service airport in Virginia with the exception of Dulles and National. Seems many agree, including industry expert Mike Boyd and airline representatives.
The local report also mentions I refused to comment. Unfortunately, when this reporter called I was in Pittsburgh attending meetings with industry/economics experts as well as airline ceo’s/representatives. I didn’t think the airline folks we were meeting one-on-one for airport updates would appreciate being dumped for this press release.
CHO has nothing to hide. Our industry is in its most challenging times. Some (probably many) would even agree for the government intervention being sought by this Coalition. However, I will have pass over the sensationalism used as an attempt to get individuals to write their local Congressmen (their website so states the intent of the press release). Sorry to say I spent part of my day receiving calls from worried ticketholders and travel agents.
CHO hopes to keep revenue local. The last economic impact report issued by the VA Dept. of Aviation in 2004 estimated CHO’s direct economic impact as exceeding $20 million and indirect impact of over $50 million. While our passenger traffic has declined, the first 8 months of FY 08 exceeded FY 07 despite the initiation of 3 low cost carriers in Richmond. Most consumers are also unaware of the strong local corporate aviation market. Our first quarter aircraft operations exceed Richmond International by 10% thanks to corporate aviation traffic.
We are also very proud that CHO is self-supporting. No City or County tax contributions are made to CHO, even though similarly sized airports around the country are subsidized.
We need AND appreciate our community’s support, and value the opportunity to provide honest and accurate communication. While I may not be able to respond to requests for information immediately, I promise to try my best-even if you are a frequent customer of RIC!
Watch our website tomorrow for our reply to the Newsplex report. After many meetings Sunday-Wednesday, we are prepared to share the good and the not-so-good news we have received.