Charleston to Build Long-Awaited Canopy

Charleston County is ready to tap into its rainy-day fund and build a long-delayed canopy to shield airline passengers from the elements.

Last week the county's Aviation Authority OK'd a request for qualifications on the project, which it hopes to get done for $3 million to $4 million by spring 2008.

The canopy was included in a $28 million contract to build a three-story parking deck at the airport starting in 2004, but county officials scrapped that part of the project because they said it would cost about $6 million, according to authority Chairman David Jennings.

The new plans call for a less ambitious structure that will cover the three walkways between the terminal and the parking garage and the curbside lane of the airport driveway.

The airport expects to find itself with some extra cash in the upcoming year, thanks to new service from AirTran Airways and the jumbo jets hauling Boeing fuselage parts to and from the Dreamliner factory hulking near the end of a runway.

New passengers mean more business at car rental counters and terminal retail stores, both of which have to give the county a cut of their sales. It also means more cars; the authority expects to pull in an extra $1.5 million in parking fees in the upcoming fiscal year.

In the first quarter, passenger traffic at the Charleston terminal was slightly ahead of last year, the airport's second-busiest year. County officials expect that number to spike when AirTran lands here in May.

More cargo jets mean more fuel sales. The aviation authority expects its fuel-farm revenue to increase by almost 20 percent next year.

Speaking of airports...

East Cooper Regional Airport has been renamed Faison Field, after Lt. Col. Haywood "Woody" Faison, a retired Air Force pilot who died in February at age 89.

Faison soloed in 1936 and logged close to 1,000 hours flying B-17 bombers during WW II. He later flew B-29s in combat over Japan.

But most Charlestonians know Faison as a patient flight instructor. He patiently guiding novices at the yoke since he founded Palmetto Air Service in 1968. Over the years, Faison also helped run the East Cooper airport and a landing strip on Isle of Palms. With over 30,000 hours of flight time, Faison was inducted into the South Carolina Aviation Hall of Fame in 1999.

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