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Norfolk International Airport (ORF) could see more than 100 additional travelers a day beginning Oct. 6, thanks to a United Airlines decision to replace one of its aircraft with a larger plane.
United currently offers four flights a day from ORF to Washington Dulles International Airport, according to Charles Braden, director of market development for ORF. These four flights are run by small jets and propeller-driven aircraft. United will switch one of the four current aircraft, which serve 45 to 70 passengers, for a mainline jet, which holds about 150 passengers.
“We haven’t had a mainline service to Dulles since further back than 9/11,” Braden said in a phone interview. “It’s been years.”
The last time United Airlines operated mainline aircraft on the Norfolk to Washington-Dulles route was February 1992, Braden said in an email. United’s four flights to D.C. are between 6 and 7 a.m., 10 and 11 a.m., 2 and 3 p.m. and 7 and 8 p.m. The mainline jet will fly at 2 or 3 p.m.
The new service will likely help those connecting to international flights, many of which leave later in the day, Braden said.
It may help the local economy as well. In 2015, the daily average spending per departing traveler in the airport was $9.07, Braden said, citing a 2015 study by Bonney & Co., a Virginia Beach-based market-research firm. The additional passengers brought in by United’s larger aircraft could mean as much as an additional $25,200 spent in the airport each month, based on this average spending for 2015.
“Any kind of new service is worth celebrating,” Braden said. “Even just an upgrade in the type of aircraft – we’re glad to see it.”