Augusta Regional Airport Looks At Replacing Outdated Facilities

Aug. 28--Although Augusta Regional Airport is projected to gain an estimated 141,000 departing passengers by 2033, an additional runway won't be needed to meet the growth, according to consultants compiling a 20-year master plan for the airport.

Instead, the airport needs to focus on replacing outdated facilities including the aircraft hangars, maintenance buildings, firehouse and air traffic control tower, said Mark McFarland, project manager with Mead & Hunt consultants. The commercial airline terminal, which opened in 2007, won't change in the coming two decades, he said.

The master plan, which will be finalized next spring, includes space for a runway parallel to the existing runway, however, only to save the space if it's ever needed in the future, McFarland said.

"The amount of activity would need to more than double to make that necessary," he said.

The airport held an open house Wednesday for the public to view the master plan proposals and give feedback.

According to an air activity forecast, commercial operations are projected to increase from 13,564 operations in 2013 to 16,155 flights two decades later. The number of regional jets with a 37 to 50 seat capacity is expected to drop by more than 5,000 operations while regional jets with 66 seats or more will increase by more than 6,000.

Passenger enplanements, or the number of people departing Augusta Regional, is projected to increase to 410,664 passengers annually.

The master plan also looks at increasing aircraft parking space, which falls far short of demand during the annual Masters Tournament held each April in Augusta.

Randy Sasser, a member of the Augusta Aviation Commission, which governs the airport, said planning for Masters Week is the most needed aspect of the master plan, which is required by the Federal Aviation Administration. The airport has expanded massively in the past decade, so the change won't be as noticeable to the typical airport user, he said.

"Where this plan is going, the passengers won't see any change in the next 20 years," Sasser said.

Copyright 2014 - The Augusta Chronicle, Ga.