WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Federal Aviation Administration and the United States Department of Transportation are sending over $518 million to airports around the country. This is part of the FAA's Airport Improvement program. The goal of this money is to "build safer, more accessible airports across the country."
South Carolina is receiving $18,916,097, which will go to 19 different airports. One of these airports is Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE), which is getting $3,338,320 to make improvements to its aprons. These are the tarmacs where planes get boarded, get maintained and unload.
News19 spoke to CAE executive director Michael Gula, who says the money is needed.
"This is going to be a huge help as we talk about capital projects that need to happen across the airport campus as a whole."
CAE is no stranger to government funding. Gula says the airport received early funds from the government. He adds that this money is especially helpful because CAE doesn't have the same revenue streams as larger airports in the country.
"We get creative for how we receive funding for those projects," Gula said. This means sending renovation plans to the government with hopes of receiving funds. He also says CAE gets money in the form of entitlement dollars, which is money given depending on many passengers the airport serves.
Gula hopes that the money and renovations will have a positive impact for passengers. "It’ll make it a better experience for the traveling public in the end."
Camille Wood is one of the passengers that comes through Columbia Metropolitan. Today, she and her husband are flying from Columbia to Atlanta on their way to Michigan. She says that improvements to smaller airports can make them more attractive.
"When we travel, we think about the airport and how convenient it is ... If it's more accessible, I’d definitely be interested in visiting some of the places."
Woods added that if there is increased funding and interest in an airport, hopefully more airlines will want to fly there and thus, offer more destinations for travelers.