News 12 @ 6 o'clock -- March 24, 2010
AIKEN, S.C. --- The planes are landing and the crews are making their rounds as Aiken Municipal Airport prepares for the one week that helps keep them in business: Masters.
"That's our moneymaker of the year. We usually sell a lot more jet fuel, catering, and it's usually just pretty big all around," said airport spokeswoman Megan Comer.
She says in 2008 the airport housed 312 planes during Masters Week. That was the most ever, she says, and it was great for business. But in 2009, a tough economy grounded at least 50 percent of those flights. With Tiger's return this year, they're looking to turn those numbers around.
"This year has been pretty busy," she said. "We've got a lot of calls, especially since Tiger said he's coming back. We're not definite on the number, but it's looking better than last year."
The tournament not only causes business to boom at the hangar, it's happening all over Aiken, especially downtown.
Most hotels in the city are at capacity or on the way for the week. In fact, the Hilton Garden Inn says they're booked for the entire week and now have a waiting list. And places like Hotel Aiken say they're ready to take on the extra check-ins.
"It's always busy, always a crowd," said Peggy Greer-Buyers of Hotel Aiken. "We usually end up with a full hotel, but right now, we do have a few openings." She says Masters Week is the one time of the year their entire staff is required to be on the clock. "If you want off, you better be on your deathbed," she joked.
But even with all the extra foot and road traffic expected, the people in Aiken say they're the perfect place to take off during the week.
"It's just a hop, skip and a jump to the interstate to Washington Road to the Masters."