Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

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
PHF is located in 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 in Newport News, Virginia, United States, and serves the Hampton Roads area along with Norfolk International Airport in Norfolk. The airport is owned and operated by the Peninsula Airport Commission, a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia. PHF covers 1,800 acres (728 ha).[1]

In 2015 the airport handled about 404,000 passengers. The loss of dominant air carrier AirTran in 2012 and competition from low-cost airlines at Richmond International Airport have led to more than a 60% reduction in the annual number of passengers at 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 airport or 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, its code PHF representing Patrick Henry Field. The first runway was 2–20, a 3,500-foot (1,100 m) runway, followed by 6–24 (later redesignated as 7–25). Airline service began in November 1949 on Piedmont Airlines and Capital Airlines.

In 1951 the passenger terminal was damaged by a fire. An upgraded traffic control tower was built and Runway 6–24 was extended to 5,000 feet (1,500 m) in 1952; a new passenger terminal opened in 1955.

National Airlines arrived at PHF in 1955; Allegheny Airlines (later renamed USAir) arrived in 1966. United (Capital's successor), National, Allegheny and Piedmont all operated jets to PHF, the first jets being National 727s in 1966 (runway 6 had been extended from 5600 to 6100 ft by then). Both runways were extended to their current lengths of 6526 feet (1989 m) Runway 2–20, and 8003 feet (2439 m) Runway 7–25. The airport became "Patrick Henry International Airport" in 1975. A US Customs facility was added to the terminal to allow international arrivals (airline and corporate). The airport now covers of 1,800 acres (7.3 km2), 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 airports, and Patrick Henry International Airport lost its jet flights. National pulled out in 1978, Piedmont pulled its YS11s and Allegheny Commuter replaced Allegheny in 1979, and United left in 1981. The airport led 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 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 jets from Pittsburgh and Washington, DC; these ended in 1995. US Airways Express (and, later, American Eagle) later served Philadelphia and Charlotte from the airport. AirTran started service from the airport to Atlanta in 1995, but pulled out 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 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 147 ft (45 m) tall new tower, it had been the oldest operating control tower on the east coast, in continuous service for 55 years.

Expansion (2005–2012)[edit]

The airport launched an expansion effort in the early 21st century. A new air traffic control tower was completed in July 2007, replacing the 1951 tower. A new three-level parking garage opened in June 2007. In 2009, more parking lots were completed to handle increased rental car fleets; 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 about 1.063 million passengers. The passenger count was down slightly in 2011, with about 1.059 million passengers.[7]

In January 2011 Delta Air Lines started two more daily flights to Atlanta on 142-seat McDonnell Douglas MD-88s, for a total of four. Service on Airbus A320s began later in the year; in 2012 Delta replaced its early morning CRJ900 with a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-80.

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 on 128-seat Airbus A318s, replaced within weeks by an Airbus A319.[8][9]

Beginning May 13, 2011, Frontier flights were operated with 162-seat Airbus A320s; as of September 12, 2011, Frontier began seasonal service. On February 4, 2012, PAC announced that Frontier will resume year-round lights, and will operate daily May 22 through Labor Day. After Labor Day, Frontier planned to operate six days per week. On January 6, 2015, Frontier Airlines withdrew service from Newport News.[10]

Allegiant Airlines also began service to the airport with flights to Orlando-Sanford, which later pulled service from the airport by 2012.

Concourse A opened in May 2010 as the airport's second concourse. Concourse A is designed with a full-service customs facility for larger 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.

Elite Airways announced intention to begin service with flights from PHF to Myrtle Beach, SC in 2018, but scrapped the plans due to doubts and concerns about airport operations following the failed launch of PeoplExpress Airlines and multiple investigations into the airport and lack of demand.[11]

Decline in service (2012–present)[edit]

Boeing C-32 landing at Newport News/Williamsburg International

On March 9, 2012, PHF's longtime largest airline AirTran Airways ceased operations at the airport due to their merger with Southwest Airlines (which was already flying to Norfolk International Airport). Passenger count declined 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.

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 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 to add a Federal Inspection Station and fully implement a US Customs processing facility. In 2020, additional administrative staff were laid off from positions due to declining revenues and further impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In September 2020, President Donald Trump held a rally at the airport.[12]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Aerial view


American Eagle Charlotte, Philadelphia [13]

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.[14]


  1. ^ FAA Airport Form 5010 for PHF 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. ^ Fearing, Sarah (January 10, 2018). "Norfolk airport adding nonstop flights to Denver this year". Retrieved March 3, 2020.
  10. ^ Ress, By Dave. "Frontier to drop service to Newport News-Williamsburg airport". Retrieved March 3, 2020.
  11. ^ "Elite Airways still plans on flights from Newport News, but no timeline". Retrieved September 20, 2020.
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Flight schedules and notifications". Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  14. ^ "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]