New general aviation terminal opens
by Eric Johnson
With the recent grand opening of the general aviation terminal at Augusta Regional Airport, Augusta now has a matched set of buildings to service the full range of its aviation business.
While most people are familiar with the passenger terminal and the airlines that service it, fewer people realize how important general aviation is to the airport’s bottom line.
According to Lauren Smith, communications manager of Augusta Regional Airport, the general aviation terminal generates between 30 and 35 percent of the airport’s total revenue.
Unlike many airports, which lease out the Fixed Base Operator (FBO), a business that provides fuel, maintenance and business services for general aviation aircraft ranging from single seat, propeller-driven aircraft to the large corporate jets that fill the tarmac come Masters Week, Augusta has chosen to run its own.
Smith says this arrangement has given the airport a sense of overall stability, with one side helping to balance out the other.
The new, 14,000-square-foot general aviation terminal includes several upgrades geared toward attracting corporate aircraft and the money they spend.
“There is a pilot’s lounge and a pilot’s sleep room as well as two conference rooms,” Smith says.
Though traveling businesspeople often prefer to have meetings at FBOs rather than arranging for transportation into the city, the airport is planning on maximizing the value of the space by renting the two conference rooms to the general, non-aviation public as well.
Similar conference rooms in the commercial side will continue to be used for airport-related business only.
The new terminal arrives at a time of growth for the airport. Currently, construction is winding down on the parking lot project, which added long-term spaces behind the existing short-term spots, making for what officials hope will be a more accessible and customer-friendly parking experience.
“We’re expecting to be done by mid-fall,” Smith says. “They’re on the final stage of it, which is the short-term parking. The whole project will provide over 600 spaces.”
In addition to the spaces, the Aviation Commission hopes to construct an industrial park for aviation-related industries, a concept that has proved successful in other locations.
As for the new FBO, Smith says she’s heard plenty of positive responses.
“A lot of people have come through and say its one of the best they’ve seen,” she says.
An added benefit is the fact that much of the artwork displayed in the facility comes from local artists.
Dave Welter donated wooden bowls, Linda Hartough donated some paintings of the Augusta National, and several watercolor prints were donated by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carordelet.
For staff, the new facility is a far cry from the temporary trailer they used during the long months of construction.
“Everyone is extremely happy to be in a real building right about now,” Smith says.You Might Also Like: