Travel at SHD picking up ahead of holiday season

The Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport is already seeing an increase in visitors, as more...
The Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport is already seeing an increase in visitors, as more people are becoming comfortable flying again.(WHSV)
Published: Nov. 8, 2021 at 6:17 PM EST
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WEYERS CAVE, Va. (WHSV) - The Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport is already seeing an increase in visitors, as more people are becoming comfortable flying again.

“Bookings appear to be very strong going into the holiday season and just from passengers that have reached out to us regarding travel over the holidays it seems like there’s a lot of excitement out there,” said Greg Campbell, executive director of SHD.

SHD says business is beginning to pick up ahead of the holiday season, and the airport expects it will be very busy after holiday travel was limited by COVID-19 last year.

“We have noticed very recently an uptick in travel, travel confidence seems to follow what’s going on with the pandemic and with COVID and in the last few weeks we’ve seen COVID recede a little bit,” said Campbell.

The airport has been comparing this year’s travel numbers to 2019, seeing 2020 as an anomaly year due to the pandemic. The number of passengers SHD has seen has fluctuated as COVID cases in the area have risen and fallen.

“This summer when it appeared that COVID had subsided we actually set record passenger numbers at this facility, all-time records, and then when the Delta variant came along in August we saw a bit of a decline in passenger activity,” said Campbell.

Travelers say things have been more comfortable on flights as the pandemic has gone on and airlines and passengers have adjusted to COVID protocols.

“I think it’s getting better, the first time people were really antsy about everything, and now other than wearing this stupid mask all the time it’s really not that much different, it’s nice to be able to travel again,” said Julie Thompson, an SHD passenger returning home from New York.

Some passengers say the changes airlines have made during the pandemic have improved air travel for paying customers.

“Flying now is better than ever because airlines have really relaxed a lot of the restrictions in terms of changing flights, for example I was supposed to fly in yesterday but I had to stay for a family event yesterday afternoon, so I flew in this morning, zero change fee,” said Ken Rutherford, a JMU professor returning from Colorado.

“Pre-COVID it was like $50 to $100 to change a ticket like that,” he added.

SHD says while the pandemic was tough on business, things have really picked up as more people are expressing a desire to fly locally when traveling.

“We’re hearing from a lot of passengers a lot of really positive feedback that they really do appreciate flying local just because it’s clean, it’s not as crowded yet they can still get connected through either Chicago or Dulles and get on their way so because of that our numbers have rebounded quite well,” said Greg Campbell.

With the U.S. now allowing vaccinated international travelers into the country for the first time since the pandemic began, SHD says its business could increase even more thanks to its connections to the Chicago and Dulles airports.

“Both of which offer quite a bit in terms of international connectivity so we do anticipate seeing more of that than we have in the last 18 or 19 months and we welcome that change, I think it’s gonna be really good for the industry overall,” said Campbell.

SHD reminds anyone who will be flying over the holidays to check the latest guidance from both the CDC and TSA.

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