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Concord: Airport terminal needed for booming commercial traffic

Published Thursday, May 28, 2015

CONCORD, N.C. -- Concord officials want to build a terminal and parking deck specifically for commercial flights as more low-cost carriers show an interest in adding service at the regional airport.

Assistant City Manager Merle Hamilton asked the city council to consider financing $5.7 million and applying a $500,000 grant match to build a new commercial terminal and parking deck during Tuesday’s budget presentation.

The project’s total cost would be around $13.5 million, but the Federal Aviation Administration and the state would fund more than half of the cost.

The city has maintained it wants to keep general aviation -- a category that includes recreational flying, corporate business jets and flyers stopping to buy fuel -- as the core of its operations.

But Allegiant Airlines continues to add flights from Concord to leisure destinations in Florida, including Orlando, Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg. Allegiant added Fort Lauderdale earlier this month.

The new destinations and additional flights are expected to more than double the number of passengers boarding flights at the airport this year, from 17,125 in 2014 to 57,000 by the end of 2015. The number could break 110,000 by 2018.

“Allegiant has taken hold very, very quickly,” Hamilton said. “We’ve come to a point that if we take this route, we’re going to have to be a little more all in on commercial.”

Other low-cost carriers are in discussions with the airport, but “we’ve got everything on hold because we don’t have the room to go any bigger,” Hamilton said.

The solution: a separate commercial terminal with a two-level parking deck and access roads.

The terminal will not be elaborate, Hamilton said, but will provide space for at least two commercial carriers, rental car companies, limited concessions and office space to support those functions. Total square footage has not been determined.

The FAA would pick up most of the tab for the terminal, since 90 percent of it will be for public use. But the city would have to finance the parking deck, because it plans to charge $3 per night.

The parking deck would have room for 600 parking spaces, Hamilton said. The ramp will be prefabricated and brought in piece by piece. Cars will either drive straight into the lower level on one side or straight into the upper level on the other side, so ramps would be needed.

The terminal and parking deck could be open by as early as mid-year 2016.

The city would have to provide $1,058,750 for the terminal, $5 million for the parking deck and $150,000 for site work, an access road and parking lots for workers, bringing its total contribution to about $6.2million.

The council will consider the project on June 29 budget approval meeting.

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