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Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport discusses national flight cancellation impact

Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 5:08 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Nationally, a number of factors have caused flight cancellations that put a damper on holiday weekend plans.

Officials with the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport say these cancellations shouldn’t deter you from flying ROA.

“There’s just no slack in the system,” says Brad Boettcher, Director of Marketing and Air Service Development at Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport.

It’s the same story, but with a different business.

“The industry is still coming out of the pandemic and getting service levels back up,” he explains. “You have a significant amount of demand out there for summer travel this year because people are feeling comfortable that we’ve got COVID behind us, and so you’re seeing that demand.”

As flyers take to the skies, a shortage of everything from pilots to air traffic control operators has put a strain on travel. This is causing canceled flights at many major airports, trickling down to regional facilities.

“We’re certainly seeing some impact from that,” notes Boettcher. “Really, primarily our driver is if there is poor weather at the hubs, that can impact the carrier’s ability to get their flights in and out of here. As far as some of the crew shortages that have been discussed, we’re still holding up pretty well with that.”

Boettcher adds requirements to work at an airport like passing a background and drug test can shrink their candidate pool.

The shortages and cancellations also put constraints on an airline’s ability to shuffle passengers to different flights.

“When you have something happen, airlines have been struggling on where to put people to get them to where they’re going,” he explains.

For now, Boettcher recommends timing is key to smooth travel.

“Give yourself a buffer of time. Get to the airport early. If you can when you’re booking your flights, maybe book a little bit longer connection. Try and travel earlier in the day. I’m not a morning person, but getting up early, the weather tends to be better and if any hiccups do happen, if there are any delays, you’ve got more of a buffer there to work through things later in the day.”

He also say delays should not discourage travelers from utilizing the convenience of a regional airport.

“I think you’re going to run into the same things at a hub airport as you would at a spoke which is what we are and that is if a flight is delayed or canceled, there’s just not that slack in the system to be re-accommodated. Fortunately our staffing levels at our TSA checkpoint have been maintained and they’re strong, so we don’t have the delays you can get at some of the major hub airports.”

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