Southwest Georgia Regional Airport sees spike in growth, expects more soon

Southwest Georgia Regional Airport says they've seen a big spike in growth recently, and they expect more to be on the way in the near future. / Mary Green

If you've recently taken off from Southwest Georgia Regional Airport, you're not alone.

Since 2013, the airport reported a 15-percent boost in its boarding numbers. The report said at some points, those spikes have been as high as 25 percent.

City of Albany Transportation Director David Hamilton said more people are choosing to fly locally instead of heading to other cities' airports.

"They're looking at saving on fuel, saving on parking, also the convenience of checking in here in Albany," he said. "You can go in the TSA checkpoint in about five minutes, whereas you go in Atlanta, it could take 20, 30, sometimes an hour."

Hamilton said the airport is still expecting more growth from a few new projects coming up in the near future, including a boarding bridge.

Right now, passengers have to go outside to get on and off their flights.

"They can board a nice, air-conditioned facility instead of going out in the rain or the hot heat or even in the cold," he said.

Hamilton said they hope to have the boarding bridge ready to use by early next year.

In the next month, however, they expect to start and finish resurfacing the airport's main runway. Hamilton said this is the first time it will be resurfaced in about 20 years.

"It's absolutely, it's time to do that, so we're just looking from a safety standpoint, we want to be safe," he said. "We want people flying in and out of here to feel safe."

Hamilton said right now, they're waiting on a contract with the Federal Aviation Administration to begin the project. That could come any day now, according to Hamilton.

He said once that work does start, it will affect some of their flights.

"Delta will have to use our secondary runway," Hamilton said. "UPS will continue to use the main runway. We will schedule when the construction will actually begin to coincide with the flights."

Hamilton said this year, they will also start designing a new general aviation terminal, which is the terminal next to the main terminal and is used by smaller, non-commercial planes.

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