Airport hopes grants could lead to more airlines

News 12 First at Five / Tuesday, September 3, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Airplanes aren't the only thing taking flight at Augusta Regional.

"We've grown 106 percent since 2006, so we are definitely onward and upward," Lauren Smith said, Augusta Regional Communications.

There have been more passengers, more flights, and now there's more money to accommodate it all. Augusta Regional recently received about a million dollars in grants from the FAA to update the existing Master Plan.

"The tremendous growth in passenger traffic in this area demands an airport upgrade that can accommodate that," said Congressman John Barrow.

Last year, a record-breaking 550,000 passengers used the airport. With the expanding passenger base, it's becoming clear that's not the only thing that needs to grow.

"The second substantial grant is to expand the taxiway and allow us to park a whole lot more airplanes there," Barrow explained.

Creating more space for planes makes Augusta more accessible to businesses and the jobs that come with it.

"When you consider the growth down at Plant Vogtle, the growing missions at Fort Gordon and their communication with the rest of the world, it's very important to support all of that growth and have an airport that can keep up with it," Congressman said.

Just last year, the airport added a direct flight to Washington D.C. Now, they're setting their sights higher, hoping to catch the eye of another airline.

"Well certainly if you don't build it, they won't come. If you do build it, they can come," emphasized Barrow.

"The bigger the airport gets, the more the airlines look at it. So, anything that will bring more attention to the airport will bring attention to the airlines to look at us," Smith explained.

It's growth on the ground that's helping Augusta soar.

The airport still has 1,400 acres they can develop, and the Master Plan will help maximize the best use of the land. The plan has not been updated since 2001.

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