While regional airports won’t have the exact number of flight operations until Monday, directors are saying DNC-related air traffic provided a boost to business this week.
Concord Regional Airport officials said they handled 60-70 percent more flight operations than in a typical week, while Rock Hill-York County Airport officials said they saw two to three times as much air traffic than in a normal week. A Charlotte-Monroe airport employee said business was definitely up for the week although detailed information was not available.
Rick Cloutier, the newly hired aviation director for Concord Regional Airport, said the Concord, Charlotte-Monroe and Rock Hill airports were probably the most affected by DNC-related flights.
Concord Regional started seeing DNC traffic Monday and handled 250 or more flight operations per day from Tuesday to Friday, said Cloutier. During a typical week, that number is about 150 operations per day.
“We don’t have exact numbers put together, but just looking at fuel sales, this is probably the best week we’ve had in a one-week period since 2007,” said Cloutier. “It really picked up Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and now we’re kind of seeing the end of it (Friday) morning.
“I think we might have had a little more traffic because we were outside the 10-mile temporary flight restriction ring, so you didn’t need a special exception to fly into us,” said Cloutier.
Concord regional had about 50 staff working around the clock, with administration working 16-hour shifts, said Cloutier. The air traffic control tower also stayed open 24 hours.
“We had numerous overnight flights – we usually only have a few night – and a lot of late-night arrivals and departures,” said Cloutier.
Some VIP guests and dignitaries did come through Concord, but Cloutier wouldn’t say who. The relatively small terminal had up to 60 people waiting at times.
“Everything went well, and we didn’t really have any issues,” said Cloutier. “The biggest success, like I said, I think was the fuel sale numbers, but everybody, including the rental cars and the limos – all their businesses picked up.”
Cloutier said the event helped solidify the airport’s status as a much-needed and versatile regional hub.
“We had a large influx of people. I think the staff handled everything quite well. It was a great week, and I’m very happy,” he said.
All these extra flight operations came during the busy season of local NASCAR teams, who use the airport regularly. The airport also is awaiting improvements to strengthen its runway and taxiway so larger aircraft can land there.
Improvements, which are expected to start next week and be finished in the next three months, would have helped manage the influx of traffic even more smoothly, said Cloutier.