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New Director Takes Over the Charlottesville Albemarle Airport - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

New Director Takes Over the Charlottesville Albemarle Airport

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A new airport director has taken charge of the Charlottesville Albemarle Regional Airport which means some changes may be on the radar.

With major renovation projects planned and national cuts to airport funding, her list of priorities could soon be soaring.

Melinda Crawford took over as director of CHO March 1.

"I love the airport I particularly love this area, it's a beautiful place to live and work," she said.

Crawford came to CHO from the Pensacola Florida International Airport. Her staff says she brings "big airport experience" to this region.

"I think that you might see some cosmetic changes, you might see some changes in terms of...you might not notice it, but in our infrastructure," Crawford said.

Changes to infrastructure like the 800 foot runway expansion project, a new taxiway, some ramp improvements where the aircraft park, and a runway overlay, or new pavement.

Crawford says she's also considering parking expansion.

"Additional parking, and modification to parking, making access to ingress and egress parking," she said.

She says her priority is the overall experience for fliers. "Maybe restroom improvements, access through the screening and exit, and mainly focusing on, as you come in as a passenger, what are you experiencing?"

The sequester cuts that caused airport towers across the country to shut down is not affecting Charlottesville-Albemarle.

"We were very fortunate because we play a vital part in the transportation system for the nation," Crawford said.

But other budget issues could still leave staff grounded, like cuts to the Transportation Security Administration. Crawford said they might not be able to fill a vacant position or they may not be able to have overtime. And now she has to be more mindful of money spent.

"This is probably one of the biggest assets the community has because it's not paid for with any tax dollars so every penny it takes to run this airport comes from within this airport," Crawford said. "So when we start looking at improvements we have to find out how to fund it."

As for the recent decision by the TSA to allow pocket knives on planes, Crawford says the TSA is the expert on what should be allowed on planes and what shouldn't, and she supports its decisions.

"I really don't have a feeling one way or another about the knives," she said. "I do think they have a really tough job and sometimes they have to make hard decisions that everybody doesn't agree with and so we just try to support them and back them up."

Crawford said she doesn't think TSA directors would be making the change if they didn't think it was in the best interest of national security.

"If it was going to endanger the security I don't think that they would have moved forward with it," she said.

Either way, Crawford said she just hopes people choose to check out CHO.

"They have the ability to look around, but we just want to make sure they don't forget us."

And moving forward, the sky's the limit.

"You have amazing air service for our region here with the destinations that we have, and the markets, and the service this staff has done a very great job," Crawford said.

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