Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Fayetteville Regional Airport (KFAY) renovations needed, director says

Upgrades to the Fayetteville Regional Airport aren't expected to substantially increase the amount of people who use the facility or the number of flights.

Bids for the first phase of a multiyear, $30-million project were about $5 million higher than the expected cost, causing city officials to reconsider its design to cut costs. Another round of bids is scheduled for April.

The renovations will upgrade the 48-year-old airport and "improve customer experience," Airport Director Brad Whited said.

"I don't expect it to add customers because we have the three major airlines," he said. "I don't expect the upgrades to have that kind of effect."

The renovations are expected to update the airport's look, provide more space, improve functionality and give the facility an increase of natural light. They will include a new Concourse A, a new screening area and a new restaurant for passengers waiting at the gates.

Whited said an example of a needed upgrade is the airport's escalators, which were installed when the facility was built in 1969.

"It's hard to get parts for them," he said.

The up and down escalators are on different sides of the airport, which confuses travelers who haven't used the facility before, Whited said.

Airline service is largely dependent on population, Whited said. The airport would like to have direct flights to New York and Chicago, but the number of passengers on the planes are not likely to support the airlines providing them, he said.

The airport has 14 arrivals and 14 departures each day. The airlines fly to hubs in Atlanta, Charlotte and Washington, D.C. that offer connections to national and international destinations.

"From there, you can go about anywhere you want," Whited said.

About 18,000 to 20,000 passengers flew out of the Fayetteville airport each month during the last part of 2016.

Federal officials announced in September that the airport had been awarded a $10 million grant to expand the terminal building. The project, which is expected to include a major upgrade to the facility, is scheduled to be finished by 2019.

The grant was expected to pay for 90 percent of the initial phase of the project. Airport revenues, including rental fees and a $4 charge per passenger, are supposed to cover the remaining cost.

The grant is from the Federal Aviation Administration's Airport Improvement Program, which pays for improvements at airports to enhance safety, capacity and security or mitigate environmental and noise concerns.

The airport had a major addition in the mid-1980s. About $7 million in renovation work was done from 1999 to 2006.

Airport officials hope to get another grant for the second phase of the project, which will include renovations to the airport's offices and a security checkpoint.

Source:  http://www.fayobserver.com

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