Finances and construction project updates dominated the Aviation Commission meeting at Augusta Regional Airport on July 27.
The approval of the 2024 operating budget was a large subject of discussion. The operating revenues are anticipated at almost $24.8 million, with total operating expenses of $23.5 million. The 2023 budget is just under $20.5 million in operating revenues and $20.8 million in operating expenses.
“I asked them (Commission members) to look at it from the lens of programs and activities. So, we’re going to be putting more money into our Masters’ operation,” said Herbert Judon, Jr., airport executive director. “It’s growing, it’s important. It also generates revenue, so the net is actually an increase for us. We’re putting a lot more money in the Master’s operation construction the next couple years.”
Two recent projects are examples of improvements for Masters Week patrons.
The Eastern Operations area at 3006 Lock and Dam Court is used to park private planes bringing golf fans to the tournament. It also provides direct access for car services to pick up and drop off passengers.
A project was recently completed to create space to park more private planes near the terminal. The north ramp was able to hold eight heavy, large cabin aircraft, generating additional income from parking fees this year.
One construction project nearing completion is the consolidated car rental facility. It’s being built across Doug Barnard Parkway, near the entrance to the airport.
“It’s not for the public, it’s only for the rental facilities,” explained senior construction project manager, Elizabeth Giles. “That’s where they do their maintenance, where they do their car wash and they service and clean the cars. They’ll still have ready return here at the airport parking lot and the counters will still be here in the terminal.”
The east end of the terminal itself is ready to be transformed to conform to serve the modern jet aircraft servicing the airport.
The expansion project includes enclosing that end of the terminal, adding about 2,000 square feet, and new Gates 3 and 4. Those dates back to the time when propeller aircraft served the airport and passengers walked out to the board.
Judon said a $5.9 million contract has been awarded to R.W. Allen Construction.
“We are working with them right now to figure out that proceed date and we anticipate it should be in August or shortly thereafter. We’re excited about that,” he said, adding the target is to have the project complete by Masters Week 2024. “Or at least at a minimum, we want to have the building portion and the jet bridges attached by Masters. There may be some interior stuff that still needs to be done, but primarily the building and the jet bridges are ready to go.”
The jet bridges cost $3 million and have already been ordered.
The airport recently received a grant from the federal government’s Airport Terminal Program, which is included in the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill.