The Garden City is just days away from the biggest week of the year. The Masters Tournament will be bringing in thousands to Augusta. And while some out-of-town guests may be choosing to drive here - there are just as many, if not more, who will be flying. WJBF News Channel 6's Barclay Bishop has more.
Augusta Regional has been dealing with increased Masters traffic for decades, but that doesn't mean that it gets any easier. They'll be seeing thousands of visitors in and out of their terminals for the tournament. To accommodate their guests - U-S Airways and Delta have added direct flights from New York City and Philadelphia. The airport itself will be beefing up staff - all in an effort to make this tournament week run as smooth as possible for the golf patrons and other visitors coming to Augusta.
"In a given month we see about 20,000 people and next week, we normally have a little under 20,000 people in the one week. It amazes me how many people come here to watch golf," said Lauren Smith, Communications Manager for Augusta Regional Airport. "And how many people use our airport, we're ecstatic to see how many people come through Augusta Regional."
Progress is always being made at the airport, one of the most recent projects was the completion of their parking lot expansion.
Changes are also something that comes with progress, and change is being made in how private planes will be accommodated this Masters – now they will need reservations.
In years past, aircrafts would have to wait for a spot to open once they landed, or they were diverted to other airports because Augusta Regional was out of room. Now, with reservations, they don't have to do that. they can reserve a spot for several hours or days - whichever they choose. And while this airport is getting business - officials say it's helping out surrounding airports as well because they'll have a little more heads up that more aircrafts could be heading their way.
"Before we could accommodate 130 aircrafts, and this year we can only accommodate 85 into our reduction of our taxiway Alpha. But they feel more secure, more relaxed," said Kenneth Hinkle, Deputy Director for Augusta Regional Airport. "They feel that, hey, we have a ramp space instead of being diverted to another airport."
Although they need reservations to park - planes have always been required to have a reservation to land.
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