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Roanoke Blacksburg Regional Airport travelers, staff react to mask mandate being lifted

Published: Apr. 19, 2022 at 11:32 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Travelers taking to the friendly skies Tuesday could breathe a little bit easier.

Many major airlines have stopped enforcing mask mandates for flyers following a ruling by a U.S. district court judge.

“It’s nice not to be the mask police anymore,” says Brad Boettcher, director of marketing and air service development for the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport.

Boettcher explains the airport has UVC and charcoal filtration, as well as HEPA filters on planes that are also used in hospital operating rooms.

Because of these precautions, he says their air quality has remained as safe as possible throughout the course of the pandemic.

“It was one of those things where we were always saying, and the industry was saying, how safe the environment is in a commercial aircraft or in the terminal, but we were one of the last ones, so it was just one of those things where we were just trying o keep everyone safe.”

Richard Lawlor, a Roanoke flyer from Montana, says he’s looking forward to being more comfortable on a flight, but also that he didn’t mind the mask requirement.

“Well, whatever makes somebody comfortable is fine with me. So, if I had to wear it on somebody else’s behalf, I’d be more than happy to do that as well.”

Boettcher stresses that you should check your carrier’s website before leaving your mask at home.

“Not all carriers have removed it. Everybody that services Roanoke has removed their mask requirement. If you’re flying out of another airport, please double check with your carrier and make sure what the mask requirement is.”

The mandate was lifted just in time for the inaugural flight from Roanoke to Nashville this coming Thursday.

Allegiant Air will carry the flights that will run Thursdays and Sundays until mid-August. It’s a link Boettcher adds is substantial, especially considering the difficulty some airlines are facing regarding staffing.

“With the pilot shortage that’s going on across the industry, a lot of cities losing capacity, for us to get a new dot on our map is very very exciting. We’re very appreciative of allegiant for making that investment in the region.”

Airport staff also says, if you are planning to be on the inaugural flight Thursday, go to the airport a bit early to enjoy some special events to celebrate the launch.

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