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The Masters turns Augusta Regional Airport into a hectic hub for just one week each year.
The airport is adding several direct flights and hiring more than 100 new employees to handle the more than 30,000 people who come to see golf.
Crowds of celebrities and private jets pass by, forcing the airport to turn one of its runways into private jet parking.
When golf’s top talent travels to Augusta National each year, it transforms Augusta Regional into an international hub.
No week is busier for the scenic airport located approximately 21 kilometers from the world-famous golf course that hosts the Masters.
Augusta Regional has only two runways and six gates. It has two on-site restaurants. It typically flies just two airlines to four US cities – Delta to Atlanta and American to Charlotte, Dallas-Fort Worth and Washington DC.
But when the Masters rolls around each April, Augusta Regional’s operations swell.
“Cities [get] the Super Bowl every year,” said Lauren Smith, the airport’s assistant director of marketing and public relations. “It’s like Super Bowl traffic for 10 days for us.
For the Masters, Augusta Regional is expanding its operations, with airlines adding direct flights from New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Miami and Austin.
Tim Weegar, the airport’s director of operations, said they would typically see around 1,500 to 1,600 “corporate” jets – that is, private jets – land in Augusta for the Masters. For non-commercial flights, the airport measures the number of jets arriving as there are rarely counts.
So how many people could pass through the airport during the Master?
“On average, about 30 to 35,000 people,” Weegar said.
Smith added, “On average we see 20-30,000 people a month, and we’ll see that this week on the business side alone.”
The airport is also hiring “well over” 100 additional staff to handle the influx, Weegar said.
“Each plane has to be parked by a parking crew, and then another crew will get the passengers off and through their ground transportation,” Weegar said. “And then another team of employees will take care of the plane, whether it’s fuel or if they need a [auxiliary power unit] starting or any other service for the aircraft. And then there are the catering people if you ordered catering. Thus, each plane could be hit several times before leaving.
Weegar also estimated that the airport will consume more than 500,000 gallons of fuel during the week.
A “world sporting event”
Weegar has taken to calling the Masters a “world sporting event”.
In 25 years at Augusta Regional, Weegar has seen a wide array of powerful people from around the world pass through the airport for the annual tournament: celebrities, CEOs, presidents and vice presidents, oil sheikhs and, of course, the players themselves. themselves.
Of all the celebrities that pass through Augusta Regional, meeting Arnold Palmer stands out the most for Weegar. Weegar said Palmer was sitting on the steps of his plane when Weegar approached and asked to shake his hand, which Palmer happily accepted.
“Just a nice, nice guy,” Weegar said.
Weegar said many players arrive via NetJets, a sort of private jet “timeshare” service that lists Dustin Johnson among its ambassadors. According to Elite Traveler, “entry-level” private jet service for NetJets’ smallest aircraft starts at $6,500 per hour.
During the week planes that cost many millions will hit the runway: Gulfstream G650 (starting at around $50 million), Falcon, Boeing business jets.
The abundance of planes in this small airport poses a slight logistical problem: finding a place to park them all.
Once Augusta Regional’s main ramp is filled, the airport will close the shorter of its two runways and park jets along it. Sometimes they even have to find parking at nearby airports.
This comes with another challenge: getting all incoming and outgoing flights through the remaining runway.
“A single operational track for rivals and starters takes a lot of planning and a lot of professional experience to get there,” Weegar said, adding, “It’s like a math test, I think.”
It’s a grueling week, but every year Augusta Regional keeps up with demand.
“Thousands of thousands of people come for seven, eight days, and we’re here and we’re ready to take it on and take it on successfully,” Weegar said.
Read the original Insider article
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