Last summer, after only five months on the job, Greenbrier Valley Airport manager Stephen Snyder unveiled an ambitious roster of goals.
With the support of the airport authority, Snyder has fulfilled many of those goals, including expanding operations at the airport to a full 24 hours a day, hiring more people and holding the line on fuel prices. But Snyder has always had his sights trained on a bigger target — improving airline service at Greenbrier Valley.
“Airlines are a priority,” he told The Register-Herald in July
This past week Snyder announced that bid solicitations for the airport’s commercial service are expected “to be on the street” no later than Monday.
“We have already let all the major players know that the bids are on the way,” he said, noting a consulting company contracted by the airport has contacted at least 12 major airlines touting the opportunity offered at Greenbrier Valley.
“This is the most important thing we’ll do this year,” Snyder said.
He and other airport officials will meet with airline representatives in Tallahassee, Fla., in April, Snyder said, adding, “I hope by the third week of May to have this done, and by Oct. 1, I hope for our new service to begin.”
But the spadework needed to attract a bigger airline is still ongoing, Snyder pointed out.
“We have to build a new business plan, and for that we need the public’s help,” he said. “We need to know how much potential business we’re losing to Roanoke (airport) and elsewhere.”
Estimating that loss might be as much as 10,000-12,000 passengers a year, Snyder said he’s still gathering data to bolster that premise, seeking input from local businesses and individuals who are flying out of Roanoke or are frequently making alternate travel plans due to cost or flight-transfer concerns. Anyone with personal information on the topic is invited to email comments to email@example.com.
“If American Airlines came in here, for example, they would probably be able to offer more competitive pricing just because they have so many direct flights to places like Charlotte, Chicago, New York,” Snyder said. “Just think — we could have a daily flight to Charlotte.”
Snyder said he remains dissatisfied with the departure times offered by the airport’s current carrier, Silver Airlines. “It’s been a 12-month battle,” he said.
He said when the airport logs more than 10,000 enplanements in a year, it stands to receive an extra $850,000 in fuel tax funding, which pays for improvements all around the facility. But in three years with Silver, Greenbrier Valley has yet to hit the magic number.