News 12 at This Morning / Thursday, March 30, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- All of Augusta will be more crowded with the Masters starting Monday, including the airport. The number of passengers headed through Augusta Regional Airport is expected to double next week.
"We probably double what we see on a normal day," said Diane Johnston with the Augusta Regional Airport.
Patrons flying in and flying out will notice from the sky that Augusta Regional is under a lot of construction. More passengers require more space, that's why the airlines are preparing by adding more daily flights and bigger airplanes.
"U.S. Airways upgrades to 70-to-90 passenger jets. They also add flights from New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C., as well," Johnston said.
During this year's Masters, the pilots will make use of the airport's brand new 8,000 foot runway, which was repaved with concrete to handle heavier loads. Right beside the runway, the fixed based operator building, which was scheduled to open up in time for the tournament, is still under construction.
"That's where all our general aviation comes through, so it'll be a challenge for us during Masters week because we are operating out of temporary facilities," Johnston said.
Delays with utilities and setting up a temporary work site have pushed back opening day until May. The construction will come to a halt come Masters Monday. Passengers will not see any workers on the construction sites, instead they will see a new lot open up and fill up with cars.
"The long-term lot is going to be completed by Masters; we'll be using that," Johnston explained.
The lot will not have striping or landscaping completed.
"Once we get through Masters, they'll come back out," Johnston said.
Starting phase 2, which means workers will focus on expanding the short-term parking area. The finished projects will provide 650 additional parking spots and a brand new F.B.O building complete with a pilot's lounge.
There is a temporary F.B.O building set up right now. Many passengers are used to arriving at the airport last minute and going through fine. Come next week, there will be heavier security screening.
You will want to double check your flights, check the airline and come out here with more time because of the extra traffic.