Newport News Airport Executive Director provides update on COVID pandemic impact at airport

Local News

Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport (PHF) // (Photo courtesy: NNWIA PHF)

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — Newport News Williamsburg International Airport Executive Director Michael Giardino provided a presentation to the Williamsburg City Council on the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had at the airport.

Giardino said that prior to the pandemic, the airport was doing very well and there were planning on announcing another airline.

Giardino said since the pandemic, revenues have dropped 99% with revenues down half a million dollars a month. The airport had a “bleed rate” of $398,000 and tried to cut costs like insurance, but ended up laying off 46 employees.

Other factors that have affected the airport include the Ken Spirito misuse of state funds and federally regulated funds to pay off a $5 million TowneBank loan he took out for the failed start up airline PEOPLExpress in 2014. Sprito was found guilty on 23 charges earlier this year and will be sentenced on July 15. The Boeing 737 MAX delay also had an impact on the airport.

Related: Newport News Williamsburg International Airport passes austere, conservative budget

The airport recently received $4.1 million from the CARES Act and $5 million to build a taxiway and reconstruct the taxiway lighting in June.

“We’re actually going to end fiscal year 2021 better than when we started,” Giardino said. “If we can make 50 percent of 2019, we’ll be in good shape.”

Giardino said he is still working to recruit airlines, including Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit because of their low travel costs.

He noted that Delta has no set date on when they were resume service. Delta temporarily suspended air service out of the airport in May.

Giardino said there are now hand sanitizer stations, floor markers for people to use, and Plexiglass has been installed for safety concerns throughout the airport.

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