NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — PeoplExpress’ time is officially up and the airline will no longer be able to operate out of the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport due to unpaid fees.
PEOPLExpress was given an ultimatum Monday morning by Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, according to officials there. PEOPLExpress had to vacate the airport terminal within 48 hours or pay past-due charges of approximately $100,000, according to Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport Executive Director Ken Spirito.
On Wednesday morning WAVY’s Rico Bush spoke to Spirito who confirmed PEOPLExpress never paid their fees on time.
Airport officials said PEOPLExpress had not been paying passenger facility charges since the airline stopped flying in September. That charge is added to every ticket sold. The airline stopped service after it said a truck hit one plane it was leasing and the only other plane had maintenance issues.
Theresa Atwood of New Jersey said she heard about some of the stranded passengers: “I don’t think I would take it with all the complaints that they had about it,” she said.
Other passengers in the airport Tuesday said they hoped to see PEOPLExpress flying again. “I would hope so … Why wouldn’t they? It helps our economy. It certainly helps the city of Newport News,” passenger Angel Perez said.
Passenger Jim Wetzel said it was discouraging to see the airline stop service. “It was a really a great service to us and the local area, and it was a much lower cost alternative,” Wetzel said.
On Tuesday, the airline’s ticket counter appeared empty and equipment used to form lines for passengers had been moved off to the side. A man who appeared to be an employee with the airline would not comment on the issue. Doors at a nearby office were locked, though people could be seen inside.
PEOPLExpress spokesman Thomas Becher would not comment on the issue or discuss the future of the airline when reached by phone.
The airport said it gave PEOPLExpress a notice in early October to pay the fees or leave and that the company has not been in the building since they suspended service in September. The airport has not yet received a plan from PEOPLExpress on how it will resume flying.
Spirito said the airport is still considering legal action against PEOPLExpress, regarding grant money. However, they have not made any decision yet.
Stay with WAVY on air and online for updates.