New Project Planned For PTI As Airline Traffic Surges
Passengers at Piedmont Triad International Airport will soon enjoy smooth travels before they even get there. For years, the two- to three-lane roadway leading to PTI has changed abruptly from asphalt to concrete right in front of the upper terminal. But that's about to change. The airport’s governing board will soon seek bids for a massive resurfacing project there, easing the way for arriving passengers.
It’s a project that has been long in the planning, but short on cash, says Executive Director Kevin Baker.
"This is not something that is fixed for a low price," says Baker. "It's going to be in the millions of dollars. We looked at doing this six or seven years ago, and just did not have the money necessary at the time to deploy it to doing this project. So at that time, we did sort of a Band-Aid project to help get the roadway through the next five or so years and it has done so, and now we're at the point where we need to go ahead and bite the bullet and go out and do a repair."
The economy has helped, with 2018 having proven to be one of the strongest for airline traffic in recent years. At PTI, passenger travel was up by nearly seven percent year to date, with cargo flights surging by roughly 13 percent.
The reason? According to Baker, there are a lot of things, including new renovations and terminal vendors. He adds September’s acquisition of low-cost provider Spirit Airlines and the FedEx expansion were by far the biggest contributors.
"On the FedEx side, they pretty much carried the weight, if you will, for the end of the year and we're up significantly as a result of that growth from FedEx," says Baker. "On the passenger side, it is related to not only Spirit [Airlines] – they're responsible for about a third of the increase for the year – but it's really the kind of a 'rising tide lifts all ships' situation here. It's an up economy and people are traveling again. Pretty much across the board, all the airlines are up in terms of passengers."
Baker says that while the new FedEx and Spirit expansions have been welcomed, he's most satisfied with the growing workforce that goes with it.
"The fact remains that our mission is twofold here," he says. "One is the passenger experience and to have it be the best that it can, but the other is economic development. There's 5,700 people that are working on this airport right now at higher than average wages. And that's what we're all about, and that's what I hope 2019 will bring is more expansion of businesses. And maybe some new businesses at the airport or in the aerospace industry that continue growing jobs in the area."
The new resurfacing project could begin as early as April and should be completed by the end of this year.