NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk International Airport is flying high and giving travelers more reasons to look around and smile.
Passenger traffic at the airport is six percent higher than last year, and that increase is part of the reason the airport is undergoing major renovations — to meet the higher demand and provide better accommodations for travelers.
“We’re modernizing,” said Robert Bowen, deputy executive director at Norfolk International Airport. “A lot of other airports throughout the country are doing the same thing we’re doing. We took advantage of the downturn in traffic to start renovations and improvements. We’re upgrading lighting and adding sky lights. We’re trying to make what is a 40-year-old terminal building aesthetically pleasing.”
Phase one of the renovations is done, and phase two has just begun. The stage of construction is bigger, affecting both the inside and outside of the airport, with a price tag of $26 million. It should be complete by Spring 2016.
Airport executives hope the expansion will prompt airlines to add more flights to the market, which would open the door for more restaurants and shops in the airport.
“The first thing we noticed, aesthetically, it looks better in here because it looks nice in the food court,” said Michael Hammett, who had family traveling Friday. “The layout walking through is a lot better.”
“It’s the difference between night and day,” said Beth Manz, who was flying Friday. “It really is money well spent.”
1.7 million passengers have passed through ORF so far this year. It’s been a long haul for the airport through tough economic times, sequestration and airline consolidation. But they’ve stayed busy and have kept travelers passing through the airport’s doors. That, in turn, has resonated with airlines.
“The airlines have been putting more flights and seats back into this market,” Bowen said.