Traffic at Aiken Regional higher than November’s Masters but down compared to 2019

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AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) — The Aiken Regional Airport is an airport that the general public can use with no scheduled commercial airline flights. Many come in from several parts of the country, especially during Masters Week, to take advantage of the runway.

“It was originally a World War II airfield and now the city was has taken over,” Airport Manager Joy Lester told NewsChannel 6’s Aiken Bureau Chief Shawn Cabbagestalk

“It’s an asset for the city,” City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh added.

The City is welcoming patrons in.”We have a hidden gem. We’re far enough away from Augusta that we’re not part of their airspace. I think it’s easier sometimes for pilots to get in and out of here,” Lester shared.

The number of visitors depends on the year, but COVID-19 made officials see a smaller number of folks coming to the runway. “We can see that all around the city as well,” the airport manager added.

With the Masters in town, officials say the numbers are a little better than before but not like in years past. “Normally during the masters, we are busy. I don’t know how else to say it. There are planes everywhere. We have long-term parking on our abandoned runway and we’re full even in 2019. The FAA shut us down for about two hours because we had so many flights coming in now compare that to this year. We’re happy to have the traffic that we do, but it’s substantially less than our normal Masters year but greater than we had in November,” she added.

A number of renovations have taken place over the last 15 years. “We’ve had seen a tremendous number of improvements at the airport. We’ve had an apron expansion. We’ve had the installation of a glide slope and an instrument landing system. We’ve built a new terminal building. There’ve been a lot of positive changes,” Bedenbaugh recalled.

Two buildings that will be removed soon to make way for additional apron paving.

More changes are on the horizon, too. “Last summer, we completed a new taxiway that will make way for a new T hangar to be built. After the masters this year, we’re planning to demo our maintenance hangar and the old T hangar to make way for additional apron paving so that whenever we do have large events, but we will be able to park more planes here on the apron, closer to the terminal,” Lester shared.

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