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Airport seeks expansion funding; other airlines 'interested'

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Allegiant Air

Passengers enter the Allegiant Air terminal at Concord Regional Airport on Friday, Dec. 20 prior to the first outgoing flight of Allegiant Air.

CONCORD, N.C. — More than 20,000 passengers have flown in and out of Concord Regional Airport since Allegiant Airlines began commercial operations there on Dec. 20 — and now more airlines are looking at the airport, according to the facility’s director.

But before more services can be provided, the airport needs a roughly 40,000-square-foot “ramp,” or parking area for more planes.

The ramp could be used to handle more commercial traffic, but also provide more space for private airplanes.

Rick Cloutier, aviation director for Concord Regional Airport, said in order to expand operations they need the ramp, which could cost about $4 million.

According to the airport’s website, more than 180 aircraft are currently based at Concord Regional Airport.

If funding is secured for the ramp, construction could begin next year. A terminal is also planned for the airport. If funding can be secured, the terminal would cost about $5 million and construction could begin in 2016. Currently, an old hanger is being used for the terminal for Allegiant Airlines.

Cloutier talked about the need for funding for those projects when U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson visited the airport this week.

“We have other airlines that we’re speaking to all the time that are interested, but we just don’t have the capacity between the terminal building and the ramp space,” Cloutier said.

Hudson said he could see the importance of the funding to make sure Concord Regional Airport has the ability to expand.

“Being able to keep those larger planes coming and what that means, not only for revenue with the tax base and selling gas and everything else, but being able to keep companies here and attract companies that want to fly big jets in and out,” Hudson said.

For instance, Electrolux is based in Charlotte, but keeps its planes at Concord.

“This was a selling point, getting Electrolux to come (to Charlotte),” said Scott Padgett, Concord mayor.

A 2012 study states that Concord Regional Airport has an economic impact of $175,790,000 annually. The 2012 study also states that 1,980 jobs are supported annually because of the airport. Those figures do not include Allegiant Airlines service.

The economic impact of the airport is sure to have grown with the use of Allegiant Airlines, which currently has two Concord flights a week. That is expected to increase to eight by the end of the year.

In addition to requesting Hudson’s help in pushing for government funding for the airport, officials also cited the widening of Derita Road as important to the airport and Concord.

Padgett said they need to have Derita Road widened from Aviation Boulevard to Concord Mills Boulevard to handle the growing traffic.

“This facility provides access to I-85, Concord Mills Mall, ConcordRegionalAirport, several industrial parks and significant residential developments,” according to a worksheet passed out by Brian Hiatt, Concord city manager. “Derita Road will decrease congestion on Concord Mills Boulevard and I-85, as it would provide efficient access to I-77 via I-485.”

Padgett and Hiatt said there are already plans to widen Derita Road up to Rocky RiverBridge, but the widening needs to continue past the bridge to Concord Mills Boulevard.

Padgett asked for Hudson’s help in pushing for funding, which will cost more than $5 million, for the project forward.

“If you look at it from a taxpayer benefit, it makes a lot more sense to do it all now,” Hudson said. “Because you look and you see that you are going to need it. It would be much cheaper for taxpayers to do it all at once rather than come back and peace meal it.”

Contact Michael Knox at 704-789-9133.

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