Peninsula residents who fly out of Norfolk global Airport (ORF) need to cross the James flow via congested bridges or bridge-tunnelsSource: ESRI, ArcGIS Online
There is a fragmented rather than local approach to airport advancement in the Richmond/Hampton roads area. The three different airports in Richmond, Newport News, and also Norfolk room a one-hour journey from each other, v Newport News in the middle. The airports are managed by three different agencies, not a local authority. Every airport is tied come the competing organization communities the its neighborhood area.
The airport commissions that regulate Richmond global Airport (RIC), Newport News/Williamsburg global Airport (PHF), and also Norfolk worldwide Airport (ORF) continue to fund upgrades the their separate facilities. They contend for business, and split the client base in between them.
The Newport News/Williamsburg plane is 60 miles east of the Richmond airport and also 30 mile north that the Norfolk airport, and local officials approximately each airplane are concentrated on economic advancement of their separate jurisdictions. Richmond international Airport (RIC) has about 10-15% more passengers 보다 Norfolk international Airport (ORF). Newport News/Williamsburg worldwide Airport (PHF) has, through far, the least traffic the the 3 airports.1
Economically, the I-64 corridor indigenous Richmond come Norfolk might benefit if travel was focused at simply two airports. Politically, there is no advantage for public official on the Peninsula come close the Newport News/Williamsburg airport in order come encourage much more airlines to establish hubs in Richmond and also Norfolk. Newport News would certainly suffer economically in the long run if lacked booked airline services, also the limited connections to other cities that airlines will administer in such a fragmented market.
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By 2016, airline consolidations had lessened competition and also (nationwide) end 75% of passengers were carried by the four carriers servicing Norfolk - American, Delta, United, and also Southwest. Richmond was serviced by those four significant airlines, to add Jet Blue and also Allegiant. The reduction in competition diminished the capacity of Virginia airports to tempt a brand-new carrier, one who can force the airlines currently serving one airport to cut costs or enhance service.2
The Virginia Secretary the Transportation detailed in 2016 the the restricted demand, because of fragmentation that the Hampton Roads/Richmond market by 3 airports, would constantly limit the service noted by the airline in the main Virginia and Hampton Roads:3
It"s all need driven by limited carriers and also if they
The biggest influence of dividing the market: because there is a small number of passengers leaving from any kind of one of the three airports, community service leaders uncover it an overwhelming to maintain a low-cost airline.
In 1999 Richmond lost its low-cost airline, AirTran. In between 1999-2005, the Richmond airport had actually some the the highest possible fares in the country. Newport News maintained service, because unlike Richmond it was willing to administer an income guarantee as a subsidy to the personal airline.
Starting in 2000, Richmond invested $50 million to update the plane terminal and reduced landing fees through 20%.
The new terminal attracted an ext customers from northern Virginia, who could use I-95 and also I-295 to drive to Richmond less complicated than fighting web traffic congestion to with Dulles or Washington National. The reduced landing fees also increased the potential because that an airline come make enough profit to service Richmond.
Once Richmond convinced AirTran to administer service again, fares reduce substantially based on the "Southwest Effect." that airline was well known for providing new competition, forcing legacy carriers to it is adapted by lowering prices and/or enhancing service. The Virginia room of Aviation had been campaigning to lure Southwest because 1999, once the Wall Street Journal described one lobbying project using a billboard top top a highway close to Southwest"s Love ar headquarters in Dallas:4
A billboard recently erected near the airport features one that Southwest"s jets, and advertises "Virginia is because that Flying LUVers," alluding come both the "Virginia Is for Lovers" travel campaign, and Southwest"s stock symbol -- LUV.The authorize is strategically positioned come be checked out by Southwest executives steering to their Love field headquarters. They saw it, all right, and also quickly had general counsel James Parker track down its parentage. The airline then asked the Virginia room of Aviation, which paid because that the sign, to readjust its colors since it too very closely mimicked the airline"s very own advertising. Southwest feared customers would certainly think the carrier really does fly to Virginia.
"They were out to gain our attention, and also they did," says Pete McGlade, Southwest"s angry president-schedule planning, who selects brand-new destinations in addition to Chairman and also Chief executive Herbert Kelleher.
The Wall Street Journal post also detailed the solution in 1999 through the airline"s executive, management with main responsibility of choosing where Southwest would expand:
"Long term, Virginia looks an extremely attractive," Mr. McGlade says. "Just like numerous of the various other 200 locations on our list."
In 2011, Southwest Airlines gained AirTran, expanding the airline"s company to encompass the Richmond, Newport News, and Norfolk airports. Southwest announced plans come cancel AirTran company at Newport News in 2012, yet continued to paris from Norfolk and Richmond.
Southwest determined to continue flying to Richmond due to the fact that it anticipated making a profit, not out of any kind of sense of public responsibility. The profit potential was intensified by a an extremely focused initiative by the Richmond organization community come steer client to AirTran. In 2010, the greater Richmond room of commerce launched the "Save low Fares" campaign with a particular goal:5
Richmond travelers have to fill 10 much more seats on every AirTran flight per job to maintain AirTran"s service levels and to for sure a better presence through Southwest...
The conserve Low Fares project is getting to out come the Richmond organization community for action, and they space responding by flying on the low-cost carriers much more often. AirTran and also JetBlue"s load factors on your primary organization routes- Atlanta and Boston, respectively- are corresponding or surpassing tradition airline competitors" for the same destinations. Companies and organizations across the region are aiding in the effort and making a difference. They space encouraging employees to fly on AirTran and also JetBlue, even if it"s up to $100 more expensive.
AirTran had been the leading carrier in ~ Newport News/Williamsburg worldwide Airport, carrying almost 50% of all passengers. The impact of Southwest"s decision to pull the end was immediate. Complete passengers at Newport News/Williamsburg had actually exceeded 1,000,000 each year from 2005-2011, but dropped to much less than 650,000 in 2012.
The Peninsula plane Commission"s response to the loss of AirTran to be to concentrate initiatives on attracting a different low-cost airline. The executive, management director that the airport declared there was adequate demand, saying:6
It"s nuts come think 485,000 passengers space going to drive to Norfolk... We will be effective in bringing in an additional airline or multiple airline to satisfy that demand.
The Peninsula Airport board of directors did control to entice two low-cost airline to Newport News/Williamsburg international Airport between 2012-2014, however failed to retain them. In 2014 the airport additionally lost company that had been provided by Frontier due to the fact that 2010.
Allegiant Air to be the first to replace AirTran. Even before AirTran shut down operations in 2012, Allegiant waiting announced plans to begin flying in between Newport News/Williamsburg global Airport and also Orlando. Allegiant Air"s service model was to operate seasonally, v no flights come Orlando between mid-August and mid-October. It offered price-conscious vacation customers quite than company travelers.
Allegiant air cancelled to work in 2014 after ~ PeoplExpress, a completing low-cost airline, asserted it would sell all-year service from Newport News/Williamsburg. Allegiant relocated its operations come the Richmond airplane to fly to the Tampa/St. Petersburg area, fairly than Orlando.7
PeoplExpress announced plan its in April 2012 to fly from Newport News come Pittsburgh, Newark, Providence (Rhode Island), Orlando and also West Palm Beach. The airline finally started service in June 2014, therefore Newport News/Williamsburg global Airport had actually regular service from three major carriers (Delta air Lines, Frontier Airlines and also US Airways) to add PeoplExpress.
Frontier"s service in between Labor Day and also May 1 was funded in part by a $500,000 yearly subsidy native the local Air organization Enhancement (RAISE) Committee. That group received economic development funding from the jurisdictions the Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, Williamsburg, Gloucester, York and James City. Flights to Denver were profitable, but at the end of 2014 Frontier announced that would prevent servicing Newport News/Williamsburg due to the carrier"s strategic transition to become an ultra-low cost airline.
PeoplExpress plan to usage over $1.5 million in commonwealth and local grants (including $700,000 in RAISE capital from the urban of Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, Poquoson and the counties the Gloucester, James City, and also York) to assist finance the first year that service. Norfolk global Airport had actually tried to recruit PeoplExpress in 2011, however declined to administer the same level the incentives.
Consultants advised Norfolk in 2011 that adding a new airline would certainly not boost competition significantly. By then, the airline sector was segmented by alliances, no by separation, personal, instance carriers.
Norfolk was offered by at the very least one transport from each of the three major alliances - American (oneworld alliance), Delta (SkyTeam alliance), and United (Star alliance). Assessing the potential because that Newport News to find a new significant carrier to replace AirTran, the consultant concluded:8
Other replacement carriers? Not extremely likely
PeoplExpress lasted only three month at Newport News/Williamsburg global Airport (PHF). It operated only two leased Boeing 737"s, and also suspended business after one plane was damaged by a truck while top top the floor in Newport News. In 2015, PeoplExpress was evicted native its office at the airport, after ~ failing to salary it bills because that utilities and trash service.
The Peninsula plane Commission continued to shot to "to fill the AirTran hole" through recruiting yet one more low-cost airline. In at an early stage 2017, elite Airways announced plan to sell flights to brand-new York/New Jersey three times/week. Upstream Airways had expanded the vault year indigenous a charter/air taxi firm and also begun to schedule passenger flights.
There were significant costs associated in attracting elite Airways. The local Air business Enhancement Committee, working with the Newport News economic advance agency, i agree to administer $400,000 to assistance the brand-new start-up. The committee also offered a guarantee the Elite prayer would obtain at least $500,000 in revenue in the an initial year. Every airport fees, which might have reached $200,000, were waived. The deal listed the airline free ground equipment, including a jetway and items compelled for dealing with baggage, likewise thanks to funding from RAISE.
The executive, management director of the Peninsula airport Commission claimed that the airplane personnel would manage all the interactions through customers top top the ground from ticketing to package claim, and:9
Basically, what Elite will certainly be law is driving its jet as much as the airport.
In 2017, persistent investigative journalism by the Daily Press revealed that the Peninsula plane Commission had guaranteed a $4.5 million loan come PeoplExpress, through no windy acknowledgement of that financial commitment. $700,000 in local regional Air business Enhancement (RAISE) Committee funds, $300,000 in federal funds, and $3.5 million in state accumulation were used to repay the loan do by TowneBank to PeoplExpress.
Local jurisdictions froze your contributions come the progressive Committee, the Virginia department of Aviation endangered to withhold future grants, and the Peninsula Airport board of directors fired its lawyer who had helped with the non-public procedure used to do the loan. The City Manager that Newport News resigned, and Newport News and Hampton appointed brand-new members come the Peninsula airplane Commission. After ~ an audit by the state, the commission fired the executive, management Director the the airport.
Elite quickly suspended its plans to start flying native Newport News/Williamsburg, as stories in the Daily Press around PeoplExpress led the state and also members that the regional Air organization Enhancement (RAISE) Committee to threaten to withhold funds.
Adding humiliation to injury, six months later Norfolk worldwide Airport announced that it had effectively recruited Allegiant, i beg your pardon would offer low-cost flights to Florida. Allegiant had actually left Newport News/Williamsburg in 2014, triggering that airport"s original efforts to recruitment PeoplExpress together a replacement.
The 2017 audit for the airport noted:10
The Newport News-Williamsburg international Airport has ongoing to reflect declines in that is passenger traffic since the leave of AirTran airways in 2012. End the last 5 years the Airport"s results have been affected by the lack of a major low-fare carrier supplying replacement service.
Since then airport staff and community leaders have operated diligently come replace lost air service. Upstream Airways do an notice in December that 2016 the they planned come start company in early 2017. The start of this company has been put on hold-up due to the state audit.
Elite ultimately committed to start operations in April, 2018, however those plans were cancelled before flights started. In May, 2018, the brand-new Executive Director in ~ Newport News-Williamsburg global Airport announced a brand-new strategy to improve service. The would emphasis on acquiring Delta and American, the two major airlines currently using the airport, to add much more flights and fly to much more hubs. He would certainly also try to get United to join them, beginning service native the airport. Recruiting a low-cost airline to compete with the "big three" would become a lower priority.11
The low number of passengers paris on and also out of Newport News/Williamsburg worldwide Airport (PHF), the airport"s location in between the Richmond and Norfolk airports, and political reaction come the PeoplExpress dealings make the future that the airport unclear. Delta and also US prayer (later acquired by American) have continued to paris from Newport News after ~ AirTran left in 2012, Frontier available seasonal business until 2014, and also Allegiant and PeoplExpress briefly provided service, but after 2011 countless potential customers have chosen to drive to completing airports in Norfolk, Richmond, and also even north Virginia.
By 2016, the percentage of passengers from the airport"s "capture area" (the Peninsula, the middle Peninsula, and an area south of the James River between I-95 and the City of Suffolk) dropped from 53% to 20%. In various other words, 80% of the passengers living close come Newport News/Williamsburg global Airport (PHF) determined to drive extra miles to a various airport. Those contending airports were offered by more commercial airlines, giving a far better choice of flights and/or much better prices 보다 Newport News.12
Economics could reason American and Delta come abandon service to Newport News/Williamsburg global Airport (PHF). If the fleet the commercial aircraft shifts to bigger planes, the cost-effectiveness of serving airports with couple of customers might spur airline to concentrate their planes to serve locations such together Charlotte and Atlanta. Low-cost airlines such as Spirit and Elite could proceed to paris from Newport News/Williamsburg international Airport (PHF) also if major carriers left, however the plane in Newport News deals with the greatest risk of losing scheduled passenger service.
Fragmenting the market and also maintaining 3 airports with limited service affect the regional economy in Hampton Roads. In 2018, Atlanta tried come recruit one of the 3 Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Hampton Roads, the railroad company Norfolk Southern. City public official emphasized just how Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson international Airport (ATL) available far an ext direct flights, and how the would mitigate headaches for corporate public official doing company in different locations.13
To increase the pool of potential passengers and retain the major carriers, southeastern Virginia could adopt a local approach quite than keep three contending airports. The Virginia room of Aviation has actually studied consolidation of booked passenger service at one or two airports, therefore at least one that the currently airports would serve only general Aviation and also cargo flights. The presumption is that consolidation would concentrate customers, and a bigger pool that passengers would stimulate carrier to offer more and/or cheaper flights.
A 1991 feasibility examine by a Massachusetts research firm had actually indicated earlier that a new, solitary airport to meet all of the local demand would call for 5,000 to 15,000 acres. No one of the existing airports in ~ Richmond, Newport News, or Norfolk could be broadened to that size. A mega-airport could carry out all passenger organization from Richmond to the east and become an international gateway, if scheduled passenger service stopped in ~ all 3 existing airports in Richmond, Newport News, and also Norfolk.
In 1994, the eastern Virginia Airport capacity Enhancement arrangement identified exactly how infrastructure in ~ Newport News/Williamsburg worldwide Airport (PHF) might be increased to handle as plenty of takeoffs and landings together the biggest airports in the country. The Peninsula Airport commission anticipated growth, but only to becoming a new connecting hub comparable to Pittsburgh and Raleigh-Durham.14
The Virginia room of Aviation initiated the east Virginia Airport system Study, which continued until 2001. Options examined were to build a single airport to change the 3 in the region, come close Norfolk and also consolidate at Richmond and Newport News, or to close both Norfolk and Newport News and transfer their service to a new airport between Suffolk and Petersburg. Norfolk and also Newport News officials developed a competitor analysis, the Hampton roadways Airport mechanism Study, to justify retaining the 2 airports as separate facilities.
The eastern Virginia Airport device Study considered building one brand-new mega-airport near Waverly or Wakefield in Sussex ar to offer the entire region, but rejected that option.
It concluded that a two-airport system would boost aviation business for customers and also increase financial development, consisting of local jobs. The study said retention that Richmond worldwide Airport (RIC), and replacement the Newport News/Williamsburg international Airport (PHF) and also Norfolk international Airport (ORF) v a single brand-new regional airport.
The location for the brand-new airport would certainly be southern of the James River and west the the City the Suffolk. State officials focused on a five-square mile area in Isle the Wight County north of Windsor.
The new airport would have actually two 10,000-foot long runways, long enough for all worldwide flights. Prices to obtain the land compelled for runways and also safety zones would be reasonably low in the area, though the distance from population centers would boost drive time to the airport for passengers.
Isle that Wight officials immediately recognized the a Dulles-type airport, together with plans come upgrade united state 460 and also bring high-speed rail to Norfolk, can dramatically transform your rural area. The brand-new facility would create:15
- a consolidated market, resulting in enhanced non-stop air service and a greater capacity to lure international service- a palliation in total trip time result from boosted air service- financial impacts result in practically 75 percent much more jobs, increased financial activity, and tax revenues
Consolidating 2 airports was intended to attract much more commercial carriers who would sell flights to much more destinations, but would also eliminate existing jobs in Newport News and also Norfolk and require the residents in those jurisdictions to drive a much longer distance to the airport. Virginia Beach citizens would need to drive 60 quite than 15 miles.
The positive results of consolidation because that the an ar were less far-reaching for elected officials than the an unfavorable impacts on their local jurisdictions. There to be no political benefit for Newport News or Norfolk officials, or for state legislators who districts were focused in those cities, come endorse closing their airports to scheduled commercial airline traffic and transferring economic benefits to Isle the Wight County.
The director of the Virginia room of Aviation recognized that there would be little support in Hampton roads for consolidating quite than upgrading Newport News/Williamsburg international Airport (PHF) and also Norfolk global Airport (ORF). The made clear once releasing the east Virginia Airport system Study:16
The state can"t close under the airports... Only the localities and also airport authorities can.
Cost that a brand-new mega-airport was estimated at $1.4 billion. Federal and state funding, to add revenue generated at the new airport, was projected come cover just 80% that the cost. In addition to the $282 million funding gap, the new airport would need an additional bridge across the James flow to provide accessibility from the Peninsula, plus expensive upgrades to us 460 for passengers comes from Norfolk and also Virginia Beach.
The executive, management Director of the Newport News/Williamsburg global Airport (PHF) tested the economic assumptions in the study. It contained no lose of economic activity in Norfolk or Newport News native closing the airports, and calculated just the benefits of the new site. The complained:17If us did do decisions on marginal financial benefit... We should not only relocate all the airports but every other economic generator as well: Newport News Shipbuilding, Canon, Busch Gardens, Ferguson Enterprises, Siemens, Norfolk Southern and everything else out to the boonies. Once the rest of Hampton roads becomes a wasteland, if that theory holds true, we should move it ago again.
No action was handled the eastern Virginia Airport system Study exit in 2001.
In 2016, a major developer in Virginia Beach said it to be time come re-consider the worry as component of a "Richmond come the Oceanfront" mega-region initiative. He listed that neighborhood officials to be willing come use local entities come provide simple services for water and also waste management, but came to be parochial and also defensive when local economic development plans to be proposed.
As a an outcome of the fragmentised market with three airports, no commercial airline serving Richmond, Newport News, or Norfolk readily available a non-stop trip from Phoenix, Los Angeles, mountain Francisco, or Seattle. Passengers going indigenous southeastern Virginia to countless destinations, and all locations on the West Coast, had to move at hubs.
The minimal number the non-stop flights made it harder to attract convention business and also tourists to places in southeastern Virginia. In 2017, commercial airlines serving Richmond and also Norfolk readily available direct flights native just four destinations west that the Mississippi River: Minneapolis, Denver, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Houston. Newport News/Williamsburg worldwide Airport (PHF) had direct flights to just Atlanta, Charlotte, and Philadelphia.18
In 2017, a member the the house of Delegates suggest a brand-new state research that would certainly lead to establishment of one regional mega-airport. The proposed ar for the airplane was southern of the James River, so it was not surprising that the delegate suggest the study represented Virginia Beach and Chesapeake fairly than any kind of district top top the Peninsula.
The study, HJ 690, was tabled, and no update to the east Virginia Airport device Study to be initiated.19
A mega-airport to serve Richmond and Hampton roadways might carry out the an essential mass the passengers required to spur commercial airline to schedule non-stop flights to the West Coast, but a site in Sussex or Isle the Wight counties would rise the time forced to drive to the airport. A consultant because that the Norfolk airport, when pointing out plans in 2016 for expanding that present facility, commented:20
Communities room going to need to accept the fact that you have actually an airport, however just no one that has whatever you desire right next to you... The highway is going to be a large part of the travel process.
The chair of the Hampton roadways Transportation Planning company proposed a local mega-airport again in 2018, arguing a brand-new facility might be situated in Isle that Wight County. Other members of the local transportation company quickly comment with assistance for upgrading both Norfolk worldwide Airport (ORF) and Newport News/Williamsburg worldwide Airport (PHF). The Daily Press published an editorial providing an different to consolidating airports, proposing rather to consolidate their online presence so customers see a wider set that choices prior to booking flights.21
One possibility can force consolidation approximately the year 2030. Norfolk global Airport (ORF) has actually only one runway long sufficient to offer commercial passenger jets. The federal Aviation administration (FAA) has rejected inquiry to money studies to add a second runway, citing excess volume in the an ar with the under-utilized Newport News/Williamsburg global Airport (PHF) nearby.
Norfolk Airport authority officials asserted in 2017 the they will have to stop all commercial passenger website traffic in around a dozen years, and stay closed because that the countless months required to replace the present runway. The worst-case scenario for Norfolk officials is that airlines would transition their flights to Newport News/Williamsburg global Airport (PHF), and some would never ever return come Norfolk.22
In 2019, the Daily Press and The Virginian-Pilot editorialized the it was time to consolidate management of the airports in ~ Norfolk and Newport News. If flights needed to be diverted from Norfolk worldwide Airport (ORF) to Newport News/Williamsburg international Airport (PHF), a combined airport authority could manage allocation the the landing fees and also synchronize operations more easily. The editorial was dull in its description of the primary reason for maintaining separate, contending airports:23
We have actually reached a allude where our local leaders must take honest, sober testimonial of what they room protecting - fiefdoms that offer their interests.
The us Department of transportation concluded in 2020 the the Hampton Roads an ar could be served by just the Norfolk worldwide Airport (ORF). To keep the basic air transport network after the 2020 coronavirus pandemic struck, the us Congress provided funding to commercial airline which agreed to continue service to "any point" come which they had actually been flying just prior to the pandemic.
The united state Department that Transportation characterized the certain locations come which company must continue, in order because that the airline to qualify because that a re-superstructure of the $25 exchange rate appropriated under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and also Economic defense (CARES) Act. The Federal firm chose to classify Hampton roads as one "point" which might be offered by the 6 carriers paris in and out of Norfolk.
Delta air Lines and American airline were not forced to keep flights to 2 locations simply 30 miles apart, even though the airports were separated by the James River. The 2 carriers utilizing Newport News/Williamsburg global Airport (PHF) also serviced Norfolk, and handled 10 times the number of passengers there. In 2019, there were 210,000 passenger enplanements in ~ Newport News/Williamsburg worldwide Airport (PHF) contrasted to almost 2 million enplanements in ~ Norfolk global Airport (ORF).
A record variety of passengers, 3.9 million, used Norfolk in 2019. However, in march 2020 in ~ the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, website traffic at that airport dropped by fifty percent and airline cancelled countless of your flights.
Of all the airports in Virginia with booked commercial passenger service, only Newport News/Williamsburg global Airport (PHF) to be omitted native the final order by the united state Department of Transportation. The Federal company required continued organization even to the Shenandoah Valley local Airport (SHD), which was 50 miles far from the Charlottesville Albemarle plane (CHO) and also on the other side the the Blue Ridge.
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Officials on the Peninsula to be blindsided by the decision, and feared just how Delta waiting Lines and American Airlines would certainly react. The chair the the York County board of Supervisors commented:24
On a range of one come 10, I consider it an 11... If castle leave, we might never gain commercial air company back.
Peninsula inhabitants who fly out of Norfolk international Airport (ORF) should cross the James flow via congested bridges or bridge-tunnelsSource: ESRI, ArcGIS Online
While service was dropped at Newport News in 2020, Jet Blue upgraded the destinations offered from Richmond international Airport (RIC) and announced straight flights come Los Angeles and also Las Vegas. Because that the first time, Richmond customers might fly to a West shore airport without a transfer.
Jet Blue included the 2 cities since it meant the business to it is in profitable. In ~ the time, the two destinations of the largest number of travelers from Richmond there is no a straight flight were Los Angeles and also Las Vegas.25
In might 2021, together the travel industry began to recoup from the pandemic, a new low-cost carrier announced to plan to run from Richmond and also Norfolk and also to build its operations center in Norfolk. Breeze Airways figured out that the industry was not large enough to serve three airports therefore close together, and did not setup to offer service from Newport News/Williamsburg global Airport (PHF).26