State and local officials celebrated the completion of remodeling of Danville Regional Airport’s terminal building during a ceremony Wednesday.
The terminal building was built in 1961 and renovations involved multiple areas that had not been updated since its construction.
“The terminal building renovation project was over 60 years in the making and has positioned the airport for future growth and improves the airport’s ability to provide first-class customer service,” Danville Mayor Alonzo Jones said during at the event held inside the structure.
Renovation of the airport’s terminal building began in March 2022, which involved the completion of major interior and exterior improvements including replacement of the terminal building’s roof.
Funding from the Virginia Department of Aviation paid for most of the completed improvements.
Danville Regional Airport Commission Chairman Phil Hall praised the achievement of revamping the building, but added that more will be done for the airport in the future.
“This is a great accomplishment, but there’s lot a more that we hope to do over the next generation and we have to think long-term,” Hall said during his remarks.
The focus of the renovation project included improving the aesthetic appearance of the entrance to the terminal building via the terminal ramp and reorganizing the passenger waiting area to support improved customer service for individual customers and large groups, according to information provided by Danville Transportation Director Marc Adelman.
An architectural firm designed a replacement of the former airside canopy, with the area adjacent to it including brick pavers.
The firm also selected new furniture for the passenger and pilot waiting areas and provided input on the layout and size of framed images of regional tourist venue sites located throughout the terminal building.
The project also included installation of new ceiling tiles and light fixtures in the terminal building conference rooms, the pilot’s lounge, offices, the new quiet area, and new pilot’s shower.
A large aerial image of Danville’s River District was also applied to a wall located in the passenger waiting area.
Security improvements were also made, including installation of a wider automatic gate to support bus access to the terminal ramp and sliding glass doors. A card access system was also installed that limits access to the building and the terminal ramp area.
As for future projects, the airport needs more hangars, more aviation-related businesses to come to the facility “and we need to continue our air-traffic growth,” Hall said.
Traffic has increased at the airport by as much as 68% during some weeks, he said.
“Now, they’re small numbers, they’re not huge numbers, but we hope to have those numbers grow,” Hall said.
Over the past five years, the terminal building’s heating and air conditioning system has been updated involving three different phases over the past five years. About $2 million in improvements have been completed at the terminal building during that time.
Recommendations for renovation work originated with the work of a focus group that about two and a half years ago, Adelman told the Register & Bee.
The group involved pilots representing multiple sectors of the aviation industry including commercial airline service, international cargo operations and charter service, Adelman said.
In addition, the focus group included members of the airport commission, Averett University’s flight school, airport staff and the fixed-based operator (which was General Aviation at the time) who sells aviation fuel and completes aircraft maintenance.
Based on input received from the focus group, the airport commission and airport staff completed tours of two large FBOs at Raleigh-Durham International Airport to develop ideas for floorplan improvements.
Through discussions with the focus group and those FBO representatives, recommendations regarding building modifications were provided to the project’s architect for design.
An airport provides an entryway to a region, said Greg Campbell, director of the Virginia Department of Aviation.
“Danville Regional Airport, just like our other 55 general aviation airports in Virginia, is the front door to this region,” Campbell told attendees during his remarks. “Economic opportunity flows through the airport, through the doors of the airport, into the communities that surround it.”
Companies looking to expand into an area use the airport to visit potential sites for corporate growth that brings good-paying jobs and quality investment, he added.
“Employers such as Averett University, Caesars Virginia, Virginia International Raceway and many others owe some of their success to the Danville Regional Airport and Danville Regional Airport owes some of its success to those employers as well,” Campbell said.
An airport terminal “is not merely a structure, it is an experience,” Jones pointed out during his remarks.
“We have worked diligently to create a space that enhances the passenger experience, providing comfort, convenience and modern amenities,” Jones said. “From the moment travelers step through our doors, they will feel the unique hospitality that defines Danville, Virginia.”
Campbell said 30% of jet-fuel sales at the airport are directly tied to events VIR each year, Campbell said. Economic impact from the airport is more than $6 million annually and growing, he added.
The 56 general aviation airports in the commonwealth contribute $1.1 billion in economic activity each year, employ more than 6,000 Virginians and pay out nearly $362 million in annual wages, Campbell said.
Officials repeatedly praised Adelman’s leadership at the airport.
“Marc’s dedication and leadership have been instrumental in our shared mission on the Virginia Aviation Board,” said board member Cheryl McCleskey during her remarks.
Averett has 120 aeronautics majors learning the business of aviation at the airport and are receiving in-flight training at the university’s flight school, said Averett President Tiffany Franks.
“Today is a very special day for all of those students, for all of our aeronautics alumni who literally fly around the globe,” she said.