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Private jets help boost local economy during Masters week

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Saturday, April 9, 2011

AUGUSTA---News 12 boarded a Hawker 400 this morning and departed Augusta Regional bound for Columbia. Eli Flint works for Flight Options, LLC, which owns the luxury jet along with 100 others. He showed News 12 all the amenities private jets have to offer. After touching back down in Augusta, Flint explained that these jets aren't just toys for millionaires.

"It's a lot of people that are just out there working. The airplanes typically have sales teams on them, attorneys, entertainers, athletes, people that are going somewhere to do something--to generate some value in the economy," he said.

With the Masters this week, Augusta Regional has been bogged down with arriving and departing private jets carrying people here for business, but most are here for obvious reasons--enjoying some golf.

"We've been having several problems with ground stops over the last few days when we actually ran out of parking places," said William Thompson, the Director of Aircraft Services at Augusta Regional Airport.

"It's a lot of business that goes on. We do about 10% of our annual revenue during this one week," he told News 12.

Flint says that's exactly why you should care.

"The city will receive a flowage fee, they're going to collect ramp fees, the fixed base operator here will make a nice profit on the fuel, the limousine companies, the catering companies, the hotels, where the flight crews will stay, the guests will stay--it's a huge economic impact," Flint said.

It's an economic impact that is being felt even more in Augusta this year.

"We've doubled our flights into Augusta from 2009," said Flint "And we're up about 50% over 2010 for just private flights into Augusta this week."

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