Avports pioneers commercial flights at Manassas Regional Airport

  • Avports, in partnership with Manassas, eyes a 40-year agreement for commercial airline service, set to triple the terminal space.
  • The move targets providing low-cost regional flights to serve Northern Virginia and surrounding areas.
  • The anticipated expansion could lead to nearly 250 new jobs at the Manassas Regional Airport.

MANASSAS — The horizon of Virginia's air travel is changing. The Manassas Regional Airport, historically known as the largest general aviation hub in the state, is poised to usher in a new era by introducing passenger airline services. While aiming to occupy its unique niche and not compete directly with giants like Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport, this move positions Manassas alongside major players in the Washington metropolitan region.

The potential transformation is anchored in a partnership proposal with Avports, a renowned airport management firm overseen by Goldman Sachs. This 40-year franchise vision is set to exponentially expand the airport's capabilities, paving the way for almost 112,000 annual flights. The plan is ambitious: an increased terminal space at the airport's 880-acre site, potentially leading to four to six more terminal gates.

Residents of Manassas and Northern Virginia stand on the cusp of having more accessible and local flight options. The proposed expansion not only provides an alternative to the distant Dulles but is also a significant catalyst for Manassas' economic rejuvenation. Emphasizing this, Manassas Mayor, Michelle Davis-Younger, champions the transformative nature of the expansion, both in terms of revenue and wider business opportunities.

Terry L. Clower from George Mason University echoes the sentiments, noting the strategic importance of the expansion. Without overshadowing the operations of larger Washington-based airports, the development promises to invigorate business growth across the region.

In a strategic move, while the expansion will give residents easier flight options, special focus will be on connecting to key larger airports and introducing regional service routes, notably to destinations like Charlotte and Boston. With an eye on popular demand, services to Florida are also under active consideration.

An interesting historical backdrop colors the Manassas airport's evolution. Plans for passenger flights originally surfaced in the 1990s, interlinked with Walt Disney Co.'s ambitious theme park proposal in Haymarket. Although the park faced its challenges and was shelved, the idea of rejuvenating the airport continued to gain momentum.

This progressive vision for the Manassas Regional Airport is not just local. Jorge Roberts, the CEO of Avports, draws parallels with similar initiatives in other regions, like the recent development in New Haven, Conn. He expresses both anticipation and confidence in the positive ripple effects the Manassas project promises.

But before this transformative vision materializes, regulatory green lights are awaited. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is set to undertake a comprehensive review, ensuring that the expansion remains compliant with all safety and federal regulations. While this meticulous process is expected to span four years, the phased approach promises a gradual but steady increase in daily flights.

The benefits of this project reverberate beyond mere numbers. Airport Director Juan Rivera envisions this not just as a commercial expansion but as a community enhancer. With tourism set to get a boost, the local economy is expected to flourish, and the proposal could herald the creation of nearly 250 new jobs at the Manassas Regional Airport.