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Four North Carolina airports awarded money for terminal improvements

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Travelers line up at a ticket counter and Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Photo courtesy of RDU Airport Authority.

On Feb. 15, four North Carolina airports received a total of $45 million from the Federal Aviation Administration for airport terminal improvement under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Airport Terminals Program.

The program plans to allocate $5 billion between 2022 and 2026 to improve the conditions of airport terminal infrastructure within the United States.

Three commercial service North Carolina airportsCharlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT), Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) and Wilmington International Airport (ILM) — are among those that received this year’s funding. Avery County Airport was the only general aviation airport in North Carolina to be allocated funds.

For the 2024 grant, the FAA received a total of 636 applications, totaling over $7 billion. Of these, the FAA awarded $970 million to 114 airports.

CLT received $27 million to replace up to 16 passenger board bridges, ground power units and pre-conditioned air units.  RDU received $12 million to contribute toward their Terminal 2 security checkpoint, baggage claim and the expansion of the federal inspection station. ILM received $4 million  to partially fund their terminal access road and terminal curb front expansion and realignment projects. 

Rebecca Gallas, director of aviation for the N.C. Department of Transportation, said each commercial airport will be allocated their funding from the FAA through the Memphis Airports District Office. She said her office will be responsible for administering general aviation airport funding.

Jeff Bourk, airport director at ILM, said the application required a project description, a reasoning for the project, a cost estimate and a specified contractor. He said that while they applied for more funding than they received, they did get a substantial portion of their requested amount.

Bourk said for an airport to receive this funding, their project must be shovel-ready and associated with a terminal expansion.

Gallas said this is the first time that an North Carolina general aviation airport has received funding through the program. She said Avery County is also the only North Carolina airport without a dedicated terminal facility.

“Avery County is just over the moon about that $2 million because that, for them, is an absolutely transformational project,” she said.

In 2022 and 2023, Asheville Regional Airport received airport terminal funding. CLT also received funding in 2023. Gallas said she is hopeful that during the next two years of this program, more state airports will be awarded funding.

Robert Furberg, a Carrboro resident, frequent flyer and parent of a pilot, said he was happy to hear about the funding since investments in infrastructure showcase growth in the community. Airports are also a representation of the place someone is visiting, he said.

“I feel like a lot of these airports are getting the facelift they’re due so that they can keep up with the growth that we’re anticipating in this region,” he said.

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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