Ashvegas Hot Sheet: Asheville Regional Airport usage sets new record

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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Here’s more of what’s going around, including final Asheville Regional Airport usage stats showing the airport hit an all-time high for 2017:

-The Asheville Regional Airport set a new record in 2017 for usage of its facility, with 956,634 passengers using the airport, airport officials announced. That’s compared to 826,648 in 2016, or a 15.7 percent increase. The increase was the fourth consecutive record year of passenger utilization and mark a more than 50 percent increase from five years ago.

The airport managing that growth on several fronts. There are plans to expand the Transportation Security Administration screening area from two lanes to three, airport officials say. The airport is also in discussion with the TSA regarding implementation of TSA Pre-check.

The airport’s brand new, $22 million, five-story parking deck with 1,300 spaces is now fully open.

More construction is coming. As Ashvegas has reported, the airport is beginning an extensive terminal assessment study to determine infrastructure and spatial needs. That would likely mean an expansion of the terminal building, as well as apron space to accommodate bigger passenger jets.

Meantime, one big job remains unfinished. Airport officials are also looking for a new general contractor to finish runway construction work after terminating an existing agreement in November with the contractor who had been doing the work. Since 2014, construction crews have built a temporary runway to allow for the complete renovation of the airport’s existing single runway. The work was supposed to be finished in December 2017. Now runway work isn’t scheduled to be finished until September 2018.

Other fun stats regarding the airport, from a report delivered by airport marketing director Tina Kinsey last week to the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority:

The Asheville airport is a “small hub” airport, meaning it has between half a million and 3.5 million passengers using it. (Other categories: medium, large and non-hub airport.) Of the 70 or so small hub U.S. airports, Asheville is second fastest-growing.

For the first three months of 2018, the Asheville Regional Airport is expecting the airlines to be using bigger planes, thus offering more seats to passengers.

The Asheville airport sees about 50 flights a day from the five airlines that use it: Allegiant, Delta, United, Elite, American.

The top destination for folks flying out of the Asheville Regional Airport: Newark.

-Word on the street: is that the Asheville Citizen-Times building at 14 O.Henry Avenue is in the process of being sold. This is unconfirmed, but if the building sale goes through, the move would follow similar ones made by the newspaper’s corporate parent, Gannett, in recent years. Newspaper companies, including Gannett, have sold legacy properties, many of them in prime downtown locations. The sales help raise big money and reduce overhead costs as newspaper staffs have shrunk. Newspaper staffs have ended up in smaller, cheaper suburban locations.

-The city of Asheville is spending $34.9 million of taxpayers’ money to make improvements to the North Fork Dam, which creates the reservoir serving as the city’s main source of drinking water. The city awarded that contract to Phillips & Jordan in October 2017, and work is underway. The city also spend taxpayer money on two consultants, who worked on aspects such as weather data modeling, on the project. Applied Weather Associates was paid $20,700 and Schnabel Engineering was paid $6,300.

-Summit Solar has announced expanded operations in its Asheville market, according to a press release. The company is touting a program that allows North Carolina homeowners to modernize their energy source with no upfront cost, with qualifying homeowners receiving a utility rebate payment of up to $6,000, according to the release.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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