GoCHO – Charlottesville Airport Getting More Flights?

Direct flights from Charlottesville-Albemarle airport
Map of current flights from CHO’s website

A lot of my clients ask about the Charlottesville – Albemarle airport. How many flights? How frequent are flights? Is it a good airport? How is parking? IThey may be getting good news. Would you fly out of Charlottesville or go to Dulles ? (I typically fly out of Richmond RIC)

Our five-gate airport is about to get more useful … **

Update 15 May 2010: Make sure you read Barbara Hutchinson’s, CHO’s CEO, comment about the hopeful increases in flights, including timelines. Also, Dean J’s reference to CHO as a “boutique airport” made me smile.

Thanks to the merger of United Airlines and Continental Airlines, Charlottesville may be getting more flights. Assuming the merger gets Washington’s approval, that is.

Namely to these locations:

  • CLE Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport @ Cleveland, OH
  • EWR Newark Liberty International Airport @ Newark, NJ
  • IAH George Bush Intercontinental/Houston Airport @ Houston, TX
  • ORD Chicago O’Hare International Airport @ Chicago, IL

Combine more flights with a longer runway, and

Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport will expand its runway by 800 feet with initial Phase 1A a $6 million dollar project funded in part by the Virginia Aviation Board and the Airport Authority. The runway extension will allow us to accommodate more fully-booked flights in varying weather conditions, improving service to travelers and the airlins we serve. When the extension is complete, more flights can be fully booked and depart from and land at CHO; this means more options for travel to and from CHO and more seats on flights mean lower fares for those flying from CHO. Results of a study of the extension plans completed in January 2008 found that there will be no significant environmental impact from the Airport construction.

I’ll put this in the category of “good for the Charlottesville economy”. The key is going to be how many extra flights.

A viable airport is a reason that businesses – DIA included – see the Charlottesville/Albemarle region as being a good place to relocate to.* This can only help.Why is a longer runway needed?

Work on an 800-foot extension to the runway is underway. It is needed because of the area’s heat and high humidity levels in the summer. With air carriers moving to regional jets, those engines require more room to take off.

“On those days the regional jet can’t operate at full capacity,” Hutchinson explained. “As a result, at least 10 passengers on every 50 seat jet might have to be asked to disembark.”

The airport is also using the extension project to lure more air carriers. NBC29 has learned that CHO is in negotiations with three air carriers which could provide service to Chicago and Florida; one of the three prospects is being touted as a “low-fare” carrier.

*I apologize for the terribly constructed sentence. I’m a little bit ashamed by it.

** Thanks to the reader for pointing this out.

If you’re looking for homes in Charlottesville near the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport, these are a few:

[idx-listings linkid=”82629″ count=”5″ showlargerphotos=”true”]

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  1. JoshC May 12, 2010 at 07:46

    I don’t think that’s what the map says. I think it’s just demonstrating what’s available now via the combined network, and including RIC as an option for Charlottesville travelers.

    If anything changes ex-CHO after the merger, maybe we get a flight or two to EWR. First, no matter what UA/CO say pre-federal approval about maintaining all their hubs, CLE is going to get downgraded just like Delta did to Cincinnati after the Northwest merger. ORD is at full capacity; UA could have given us a flight there a long time ago if they wanted. And while IAH would give us a ton of new one-stop destinations, and is the new flight I’d like to see most, I doubt we’ll be a top priority for them among current UA-only markets in the Southeast.

  2. jmcnamera May 12, 2010 at 09:19

    At best we’ll see a direct to Newark. We won’t see IAH though since its our of range of most regional planes and we don’t have the demand for larger jets.

  3. TJ May 13, 2010 at 07:45

    I’m rooting for a direct flight to Chicago. Go CHO!

  4. Barbara Hutchinson May 13, 2010 at 22:01

    The results of mergers aren’t clear until it actually takes place and the new entity begins to assert its new business plan that is drafted, re-drafted and often revised again until it is deployed. The Delta/Northwest merger took many “hits” in the media before it took place, and it has proven a success (Delta just won approval for Detroit-Tokyo service that results in one-stop to Tokyo for CHO, similar to the June 1 CHO to Detroit to Ghana service that will be available from CHO) (can you tell I’m excited by our ever-increasing international reach?). In addition, air service “deals” must pass thru hurdles that re-mold the deal so that it rarely is exactly as proposed. Last fall’s Delta/US Airways LaGuardia/Washington National proposal is a good example. Many small communities with existing LGA service on US Airways are anxiously awaiting the fate of that service, including CHO.

    Comments regarding Cleveland are frequent and many, but assuming CHO would have any guarantee of Newark service may be premature. Many factors go into the decision including the airport’s desire for the service, start-up costs in the proposed community, fleet repositioning, space requirements, current market performance for the proposed destination (how many pax buy tickets for Newark now that leave our market to fly thru Newark from another airport/how many pax fly to LGA that would change if Newark became available), etc. It is also incorrect that ORD is at capacity. For example, last week Delta announced new routes, including Chicago: “Seeking to bolster its flights out of New York City, Delta Air Lines announced plans to expand service from there to nearly 30 cities worldwide, including major business destinations like Chicago, St. Louis, London and Tokyo.” Airlines increase/decrease routes every day in order to serve cities that provide the highest revenue. Some are even accused of “costing” a community an investment in service by prematurely leaving one market for another and finding the original market more attractive and going back. Fleet is another matter that also is less onerous with the merger than prior to the merger, but mainline airlines can easily select any number of sub-carriers if distance/fleet is a consideration.

    Two things are certain: 1) we can debate airlines and air service decisions for days, and 2) Continental has previously served CHO and the merged airline would be able to add new routes without Continental’s current need to factor in station costs.

    What really happens remains to be seen but Jim is correct the runway extension will benefit both existing & future airlines, the regional jet as well as new aircraft possibilities such as the MD-80 fleet, and the revenue produced by our local economy has allowed CHO to maintain a favorable outlook compared to many similar sized communities across the nation over the past two years. We actively engage current and proposed airline partners and seek service based on the top markets utilized by our primary market area that can sustain air service. In today’s market, airlines require more and more “certainty” in the revenue forecast and less “gamble” than in previous years, and it often takes as long as 4-5 years for a decision to initiate service to be made.

    Finally, one more comment. We depend on our customers in order to attract new service. The more passengers we lose to neighboring airports, the more difficult it is prove the need for new service to an airline. In other words, “buy local, fly local” and GO CHO!

  5. Dean J @ UVa May 14, 2010 at 14:02

    I travel for work for most of the fall and sometimes in the spring. I spend a lot of time in airports (I’m going to get that badge in Foursquare within a week of starting my travel season this fall). I pretty much fly CHO exclusively these days. I love getting on the 6:10 AM flights and being at my destination before the day is gone. What’s more, I usually make it from the curb to the gate in about five minutes. A “line” at security consists of 4-5 people in my experience. RIC is erratic…you can cruise through one day and wait in long lines the next. Dulles is consistently horrible when it comes to lines.

    I could invest 3-4 extra hours and save a little money on the ticket, but pay for parking and gas OR I could get dropped off at CHO and sail to the gate. I’ll take CHO.

    I literally gush about CHO when out of visiting families ask about it. We are so lucky to have a boutique airport. I still love my old “home” airport (BOS), but I don’t miss all the extra time it took to get through it.

  6. Barbara Hutchinson May 14, 2010 at 22:00

    Thanks for great comments about CHO. The 6:15 am Delta Detroit flight we lost last year returns June 1 (as a jet) and US Airways is putting in an additional Charlotte flight June 1 (also as a jet). The Detroit flight allows for much improved western & international connections. US Airways has been responding to CHO’s request to review fares and this will be 7th Charlotte connection which like Detroit has great one stop connections, domestically and internationally. Not quite but almost “whole” as before the economic downturn and very pleased at airlines response to upturn in traffic.


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