Essay

8 Busiest Airports in Virginia, Ranked

Every year, tourism in the Commonwealth of Virginia generates nearly $46.1 billion in revenue. With more than fifty public airports, being aware of what to expect when you arrive at the airport allows you to plan ahead for each journey. Each year, millions of passengers use Virginia’s airports for both domestic and international travel. See below for additional information about Virginia’s busiest airports.

Busiest Airports In Virginia
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport continues to be Virginia’s busiest airport. Despite being in Washington, D.C., federal and state regulations demonstrate that it is contained inside Virginia’s airport boundaries. This airport, which covers 860 acres of land and water, was first used in 1941. The airport was barely 115,000 square feet in size when it was first opened. The airport wasn’t expanded until November 1950, nearly ten years later.

These days, there are three runways, space for over 8,500 cars to park, and rental car services available. The FAA (link) reported 11,553,850 enplanements in 2021, continuing the steady stream of travellers since the site’s inception. In fact, they had already served over one million passengers by 1946—just five years had elapsed. To ease traffic and enhance the passenger experience, the airport added two more TSA security checkpoints that same year.

Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)

Following the Civil Aeronautics Administration’s decision to further promote travel from the nation’s capital, work on the Washington Dulles International Airport began, encompassing the former Blue Ridge Airport. In 1950, further financing was granted; however, the plans to locate it in Fairfax County were met with opposition by locals. The current location of the airport was officially settled upon by President Eisenhower in 1958. Pete Quesada, the FAA’s first chief, ultimately decided to use Dulles in the name. He was the president’s advisor on aviation at the time.

Six hangars, a new terminal, and additional retail and office space were added with the construction of a new FBO in 2023. In the same year, they even started nonstop flights with ITA Airways. A new solar power facility was being built, and they were welcoming more than 10 million passengers annually.

Norfolk International Airport (ORF)

The Norfolk Airport Authority is in charge of the Norfolk International Airport, which is situated only 7 miles from Norfolk’s city centre. It offers its services to the northeast region of North Carolina and the Hampton Roads metropolitan area in collaboration with the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport. The FAA noted that in 2021, despite being a medium hub airport, over 2 million people were enrolled. Delta Airlines is a major player in that traffic. This airport is situated at a very low height, spanning 1,300 acres.

Based on FAA records, 2,065,116 passengers passed through this airport in 2021 alone. They want to renovate its terminals significantly by 2025 in order to accommodate more passengers and provide more amenities.

Richmond International Airport (RIC)

Richmond International Airport is located in Sandston, an unincorporated settlement, to the south of Richmond’s city. Despite being the busiest in the area, it is not the busiest airport in Virginia. It only trails the state’s three largest airports, which are spread across 2,500 acres.

This airport was first opened in 1975, but it expanded significantly at the beginning of the twenty-first century and had a complete makeover by 2005. There are now 22 gates total thanks to the redesign’s new gates. Along with creating a new terminal roadway and tower, it also expanded their parking space.

Roanoke–Blacksburg Regional Airport (ROA)

The Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport wasn’t always as busy as it is now, despite appearances to the contrary. As a non-hub major commercial service facility, this airport handled 299,858 enplanements in 2021, according to the FAA. There were just two dirt runways at this airport prior to World War I. It still has two runways, but 116 operations take place there every day.

When the war ended, one of the top priorities for the leaders was to build an airport that would service the Roanoke Valley. It was far farther away when they first chose the site. The original name of this airport was Roanoke Municipal Airport, which opened when the site was granted by the city. The control tower took an extra sixteen years to install, but the terminal building was completed in 1989.

Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport (CHO)

There are nonstop flights from Charlottesville–Albemarle Airport to five places, so you can avoid spending too much time on layovers. This airport has developed into a key commercial service facility that is not a hub since it opened in 1955. The property has a 6,801 by 150-foot runway and occupies 710 acres in Virginian countryside. Travellers may travel more easily with this airport because they can hire a car and receive food all in one place.

The Founder’s Lounge at gate 5 was only recently created by the airport in 2019, although admission requires a day pass that may be purchased for a modest charge. Additionally, they upgraded to LED lighting in 2023 and constructed two new lifts in 2022. This airport is among the busiest in Virginia, with 262,725 enplanements reported in 2021, according to the FAA.

Newport News-Williamsburg Airport (PHF)

The Newport News-Williamsburg Airport, which is owned by the Peninsula Airport Commission, had little more than 80,000 passengers in 2021. Before, the airport handled close to 500,000 passengers a year. In recent years, travellers have been drawn to Richmond International Airport because of its affordable flights. In 2012, their affiliation with AirTran ceased, hence initiating a 60% decline in their passenger load.

The Patrick Henry Airport was the name of the Newport News-Williamsburg Airport when it initially opened. The PHF airport code did not change despite the rename.

Lynchburg Regional Airport (LYH)

Lynchburg Regional Airport is situated in Campbell County, Virginia, a short distance from the city’s central business centre. When it first opened in 1931, this airport was known as Preston Glenn Airport in honour of a local Army Air Corps pilot. Its 76,762 enplanements in 2021 as a key commercial service facility represent a sharp decline from its usual service. The two asphalt runways have plenty of room on the 872-acre property.

Highlights of the Busiest Airports in Virginia:

Airport Location Enplanements (2021)
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport Washington, D. C. 11,553,850
Washington Dulles International Airport Washington, D. C. 10,266,324
Norfolk International Airport Norfolk 2,065,116
Richmond International Airport Richmond 2,042,834
Roanoke Regional Airport Roanoke 299,858
Charlottesville-Albemarle County Airport Charlottesville 262,725
Newport News-Williamsburg Airport Newport News 80,228
Lynchburg Regional Airport Lynchburg 76,762