The wave of airport upgrades isn’t limited to major hubs. A $115 million renovation project is underway at Greenville-Spartanburg Airport, about 85 miles from Charlotte.
The upgrades include adding more concession space, replacing solid walls with glass to let in natural light throughout the whole terminal, adding nursing rooms for mothers, making the baggage system faster and consolidating checkpoints to speed passengers through security. No detail is being left out, officials said.
“We spent a lot more time in design of restrooms than I ever anticipated, but we’re trying to make sure we get those right,” said Dave Edwards, chief executive of Greenville-Spartanburg.
Part of the reason for the upgrades, Edwards said, is that Greenville-Spartanburg loses customers to Charlotte Douglas, a far larger airport with hundreds more flights every day.
Edwards said many passengers choose to drive to Charlotte because of the wider array of flights and prices – something Greenville-Spartanburg can’t control. But he thinks the renovations will prompt airlines to add flights. He also said Greenville-Spartanburg will be more pleasant to fly from than larger airports.
“We will have a first-class, modernized facility with amenities that we believe they won’t get out of a large hub like Charlotte,” he said. For example, instead of arriving two hours before flights, passengers should be able to show up 45 minutes early and comfortably check in and clear security.
Fifteen miles north of Charlotte, Concord Regional Airport is trying to transform itself from a general aviation airport serving small planes and charters into a viable alternative to Charlotte Douglas for local travelers.
Last month, low-cost airline Allegiant started flying twice weekly from Concord to Orlando. Airport director Rick Cloutier said Concord Regional spent $200,000, a mix of state, federal and local funds, to retrofit a hangar as a temporary passenger terminal.
“That’s been working fairly well,” said Cloutier. If Concord Regional gains more commercial flights, the airport could consider building a new passenger terminal.
Portillo: 704-358-5041; Twitter: @ESPortillo
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