Augusta, GA (WJBF) – Augusta Regional Airport is gearing up for its busiest week of the year. The Masters Tournament will bring in a large amount of private planes to Bush Field. Airport officials say they’re changing some things around to keep things running smoothly.
Augusta Regional Airport will close down it’s secondary runway to provide more space for private aircraft parking. Communications Manager, Lauren Smith says it’s becoming more and more difficult to accommodate because private planes are getting bigger each year.
“We can have anywhere from 150 to 180. It all depends on the plane size but unfortunately every year the planes are getting bigger and bigger which makes it a little tougher to find the best parking space for them but we try to accommodate everybody we can,” said Smith.
Smith says they’re expecting to run a tight schedule this coming Masters Week.
“On the private side we have planes land and take off every five minutes. It is a very busy week for us. On the commercial side we see about 20,000 passengers come in that week and that’s an average month for us,” said Smith.
She says it’s no surprise who will come through the private side terminal.
“We see everybody come through. We see corporate businesses come through. We see individuals who just want to fly in for the tournament. So, we see anything and everything from all over the world,” said Smith.
In the past, pilots and patrons had to park down by the Fixed Base Operations building and walk to the private terminal and parking lot.
Smith said last year was the first time they shut down the secondary runway to create more parking to lessen the hassle.
There were 2,844 aircraft accommodated on the private side in 2015. Smith says it was a nearly 40% increase in says is from using the secondary runway for parking.
Of course with more planes comes more profit for the airport.
“Whenever the planes do come here we charge a landing fee and a parking fee and then the fuel cells are the big revenue for us,” said Smith.
The private side alone brought in $876,345. There were 309,416 gallons of jet fuel purchased to contribute to the revenue total.
Smith says it’s not always easy to gauge when parking will be full but will help everyone as much as they can.
“The folks in the tower are talking to the pilots and they’ll just let them know Augusta’s full. Please try going to Aiken Municipal Airport, Daniel Field, or McDuffie County because they all may have spaces available. So we’re staying in constant communication with each other to try to accommodate and provide the best customer service,” said Smith.
On the commercial side, direct flights to New York City, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Dallas and Chicago are being offered exclusively during Masters Week.