Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport

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Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport

Patrick Henry Field
Newport News Williamsburg International Airport.svg
Airport typePublic
OwnerThe Peninsula Airport Commission
ServesVirginia Peninsula
LocationNewport News, Virginia
Elevation AMSL42 ft / 13 m
Coordinates37°07′55″N 76°29′35″W / 37.13194°N 76.49306°W / 37.13194; -76.49306Coordinates: 37°07′55″N 76°29′35″W / 37.13194°N 76.49306°W / 37.13194; -76.49306
PHF is located in Virginia
Location of airport in Virginia / United States
PHF is located in the United States
PHF (the United States)
Direction Length Surface
ft m
7/25 8,003 2,439 Concrete
2/20 6,526 1,989 Concrete

Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport (IATA: PHF, ICAO: KPHF, FAA LID: PHF) is an airport located in Newport News, Virginia, and serves the Hampton Roads metropolitan area along with Norfolk International Airport in Norfolk. The airport is owned and operated by the Peninsula Airport Commission, which is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia. PHF covers 1,800 acres (728 ha) of land.[1]

In 2015 the airport handled approximately 404,000 passengers. The loss of dominant air carrier AirTran in 2012 and increased competition from low-cost airlines serving Richmond International Airport have led to more than a 60% reduction in the annual number of passengers using PHF since 2011.


In 1946, Virginia's General Assembly passed legislation creating the Peninsula Airport Commission (PAC) to determine a location for and establish a new commercial airport to serve the cities of Newport News and Hampton. An agreement was reached with the US War Asset Administration in 1947 to transfer 924 acres (3.7 km²) of the former Camp Patrick Henry, a World War II US Army base, to the PAC as the site for the new airport. A Nike missile air defense base, known as N-85, still exists on the property, though abandoned since the mid-1960s.

The airport was originally named Patrick Henry Airport. It was assigned the designator PHF, representing Patrick Henry Field. The first runway built was Runway 2–20, a 3,500-foot (1,100 m) runway, followed by Runway 6–24 (later redesignated as Runway 7–25). Commercial airline service began in November 1949. The airport was serviced by Piedmont Airlines and Capital Airlines.

In 1951, the original passenger terminal was damaged by a fire. An upgraded traffic control tower was constructed and began operation and Runway 6–24 was extended to 5,000 feet (1,500 m) for larger four-engine aircraft during 1952. A new passenger terminal was opened in 1955.

Between 1952 and the 1970s, three other airlines United Airlines, National Airlines and Allegheny Airlines (which was later renamed USAir), extended service to the airport. United, National, Allegheny and Piedmont all operated jet service into the airport over the years. Both runways were extended during this period to their current lengths of 6526 feet (1989 m) Runway 2–20, and 8003 feet (2439 m) Runway 7–25. The airport was renamed "Patrick Henry International Airport" in 1975. A US Customs facility was added to the passenger terminal building to allow international flights (both commercial and corporate) access to the airfield. The airport now consists of 1,800 acres (7.3 km2), with most of it in the city of Newport News and nearly half of the airfield with runways 20 and 25 in York County.

When the United States Congress deregulated the airlines in 1978, many airlines serving Patrick Henry Airport consolidated their southeast Virginia services at other area airports. This resulted in Patrick Henry International Airport losing all jet services. By 1979 the airport only offered small commuter flights to very few destinations. The airport had the distinction of leading the nation in air service decline after deregulation and was facing severe financial difficulty.[2]

The turnaround began with the hiring of Charles J. Blankenship as Executive Director in 1984.[3] Blankenship implemented a strategic plan of developing a business park named Patrick Henry Commerce Center[4] and a marketing campaign to attract air carriers.[5] By 1985 the airport had the distinction of being America's fastest growing airport. That success was repeated in 1986.[6]

On December 19, 1980, the Daily Press reported a committee authorized by the PAC recommended that the airport change its name to "Newport News/Williamsburg International" to then-Executive Director Michael White. This change would not take place until ten full years later. At the time, the Commission members represented the cities of Newport News, Hampton, and Williamsburg, as well as James City County and York County. Since 2010, the Commission consists of six commissioners who are appointed by the cities of Hampton (2) and Newport News (4).

In 1985, USAir added mainline jet services from Pittsburgh and Washington, DC. These jet services were pulled in 1995. US Airways Express (and, later, American Eagle) subsequently served Philadelphia and Charlotte from the airport. AirTran started service from the airport to Atlanta in 1995, but ended service in March 2012. Delta Connection began service from Newport News to Atlanta in February 2002.

The PAC renamed the facility Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport in September 1990. A new terminal was opened in late 1992.

Until the 1990s, part of the original terminal building was named Flight Services Building, and home to the National Weather Service. Weather reports and emergency alerts were broadcast on radio stations and weather frequencies during severe weather right from the airport.

When the original control tower was shut down in July 2007 with the opening of the state of the art 147 ft (45 m) tall new tower, it had been the oldest operating control tower on the east coast with continuous service for 55 years.

In 2008, the PAC selected Ken R. Spirito to serve as its new Executive Director. Spirito served as Executive Director of Peoria International in Illinois up until his move to Newport News. In 2010, Ted Kitchens was hired as Assistant Director of Planning and Development, having previously served with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International in Georgia.

Expansion (2005–2012)[edit]

In light of substantial growth, the airport launched an expansion effort in the early 21st century. A new air traffic control tower was completed in July 2007, to replace the one built in 1951. A new three-level parking garage opened in June 2007. In 2009, additional parking lots were completed to handle increased rental car fleets; total parking capacity was estimated at 3,000 vehicles.

As of 2011, the airport was the third fastest-growing airport in the United States and the 118th largest airport. The year 2010 was its best ever, with approximately 1,063,000 passengers. The passenger count was down slightly in 2011, with approximately 1,059,000 passengers.[7]

In January 2011, Delta Air Lines provided two additional daily flights to Atlanta using 142-seat McDonnell Douglas MD-88 aircraft, for a total of four. Additional service using Airbus A320 aircraft began later in the year. In 2012, Delta upgraded its early morning CRJ900 regional jet flight to a larger McDonnell Douglas DC-9-50 jet.

Frontier Airlines began nonstop service from Newport News in 2010 as the airport was finishing a $23 million renovation. Initial service included four direct flights a week to Denver, Colorado using Airbus A318 128-seat jets but, due to high demand, service was upgraded within weeks to an Airbus A319.[8][9]

For 2011, Frontier Airlines increased its service from the airport. Beginning May 13, 2011, Frontier flights were operated with larger Airbus A320 jets with seating for 162 passengers. However, as of September 12, 2011, Frontier began providing service to the airport seasonally. On February 4, 2012, PAC announced that Frontier will resume year-round service at the airport, and will operate seven days per week beginning May 22 through Labor Day. After Labor Day, Frontier planned to operate flights six days per week. However, Frontier no longer serves the airport.

Concourse A opened in May 2010 as the airport's second concourse. Concourse A is designed with a full-service customs facility for larger-size international jets. A local contractor donated $50,000 worth of labor and materials to expand the airport's USO office in 2010, doubling it in size to better serve military personnel who fly through the airport.

Decline in service (2012–present)[edit]

On March 9, 2012, PHF's longtime largest airline AirTran Airways ceased operations at the airport. This was due to their merger with Southwest Airlines (which was already servicing nearby Norfolk International Airport). Passenger count declined substantially in 2012 after the departure of AirTran, with layoffs at the airport announced in May 2012 including police officers, all police dispatchers and other staff.

In February 2012, PEOPLExpress Airlines announced plans to fly out of the airport to several destinations. The airline, headquartered in Newport News, planned to fly to several destinations, including several weekly flights to Pittsburgh and Newark. With flights as far south as Florida, and as far west as St. Louis.[10] The airline planned to operate Boeing 737–400 aircraft, and acquired an operating certificate from Xtra Airways in 2013.[11]

The airport is home to three Fixed-Base operators: Rick Aviation, Atlantic Aviation and Orion Air Group, which is now Tempus Jets. In January 2013, Mid Atlantic Aviation also located at the airport, as well as Epix Aviation. Rick and Atlantic provide flight instruction schools, and jet fuel services to private and commercial airplanes. Atlantic Aviation handles international chartered flights. Rick Aviation continues to operate inside the original passenger terminal, sharing space with Denbigh High School's Aviation Academy (serving over 350 high school students). As Orion Air Group opened a new world headquarters 40,000-square-foot (3,700 m2) facility which will employ 100 people; they are already planning an additional 70,000-square-foot (6,500 m2) expansion. Additionally, in 2011 Tidewater Flight Center opened a second location at the airport, providing flight instruction from the original terminal building. Also sharing the original terminal building is a local squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, which maintains several CAP airplanes at the airport.

Newport News–Williamsburg is also the first airport in the nation to undergo a sustainability project, to incorporate green technology in every facet of operations.[citation needed]

In January 2014, Concourse A began undergoing upgrades to add a Federal Inspection Station and fully implement a US Customs processing facility.

On June 30, 2014, People Express Airlines began a small hub operation at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport utilizing two gates on Concourse A. Operations began with two daily Boeing 737-400 flights to Newark and one daily flight to Boston and Pittsburgh each. West Palm Beach was added with one daily flight on July 15. Daily service (except Tuesday) was added to Atlanta on August 1. Three weekly flights to both St. Petersburg and New Orleans began on August 28.

On September 24, 2014, a vendor truck struck one of the airplanes operated by PEOPLExpress. Two days later on September 26, 2014, there were maintenance problems with an engine on the other aircraft. The airline shut down on September 26, 2014, originally on a temporary basis[12] but on November 12, 2014, PEOPLExpress was evicted from the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport due to non-payment of Passenger Facilities Charges of US$100,000.[13] and on January 22, 2015 PEOPLExpress was evicted from their office space at the airport due to $18,000 of unpaid utility bills, signifying the end of PEOPLExpress.[14]

On January 6, 2015, Frontier Airlines withdrew service from Newport News.[15]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

American Eagle Charlotte, Philadelphia [16]
Delta Air Lines Atlanta [17]
Delta Connection Atlanta [17]


Top destinations[edit]

Busiest domestic routes from PHF
(November 2016 – October 2017)
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Charlotte, North Carolina 88,580 American
2 Atlanta, Georgia 77,560 Delta
3 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 30,880 American

Ground transportation[edit]

The airport is served by various taxi companies, including Orange, American, Yellow, Best, and All City. Also, HRT (Hampton Roads Transit) directly serves the airport with regional bus service at two bus stops; the airport is on HRT Route 116 and is the only Hampton Roads airport with direct bus service. Shuttle and Limousine companies also service the airport through pre-arranged appointments. Five car rental agencies can be found at the airport: Hertz, National, Enterprise, Avis and Budget.[19]


  1. ^ FAA Airport Master Record for PHF (Form 5010 PDF), effective March 29, 2018.
  2. ^ Editorial ″Airport distinctions" Daily Press May 26, 1985.
  3. ^ ″New director faces old airport challenge″ Daily Press Jan.20,1984
  4. ^ ″Work begins on airport industrial park″ Daily Press March 15, 1985
  5. ^ ″It's up, up and away at Patrick Henry Airport″, Daily Press May 19, 1985
  6. ^ ″Patrick Henry on the runway to recovery″ Virginia Pilot July 7, 1986
  7. ^ "Welcome to FlyPHF - Traffic Statistics! - Newport News Williamsburg International Airport". Archived from the original on April 7, 2015. Retrieved April 30, 2015.
  8. ^ Tews Interactive. "Newport News Makes Headlines With New Concourse & Runway Rehab by Rebecca Kanable (: May-June, 2010)". Airport Improvement Magazine. Archived from the original on May 15, 2015. Retrieved April 30, 2015.
  9. ^ Williamsburg Yorktown Daily; "NN/W'Burg Airport Adds Non-Stop Service to Denver on Frontier"; February 4, 2010
  10. ^
  11. ^ "People Express of Newport News acquires an airline in Boise, Idaho". tribunedigital-dailypress. Retrieved April 30, 2015.
  12. ^ "Newport News-Williamsburg airport: People Express plan to resume service is delayed". Daily Press. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  13. ^ "PeopleExpress Evicted". WAVY-TV.
  14. ^ 13News Now (January 22, 2015). "PEOPLExpress evicted from offices at Peninsula airport". WVEC. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Flight schedules and notifications". Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  17. ^ a b "FLIGHT SCHEDULES". Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  18. ^ "Newport News/Williamsburg, VA: Newport News/Williamsburg International (PHF)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics. January 2017. Retrieved March 29, 2017.
  19. ^ "Welcome to FlyPHF - Ground Transport! - Newport News Williamsburg International Airport". Archived from the original on March 16, 2015. Retrieved April 30, 2015.

External links[edit]