Apr. 8—With the Masters Tournament in full swing and the pandemic raging on, the Aiken Regional Airport is expecting more traffic, though not as much as it saw in 2019.
"...We're expecting a little bit more traffic, but nothing like we normally see," said Joy Lester, the airport manager for the city. "So, more traffic is good, but we would love for everything to be getting back to normal, just like everybody else ..."
During the 2019 Masters, the airport was packed and maxed out, Lester said. The Augusta Tower actually shut the airport down for two hours because the airport had so many planes trying to land during the Masters Tournament.
This past November when the 2020 Masters took place in the fall, however, was no different than any other day out at the airport because patrons that weren't allowed to attend the tournament because of COVID-19.
"And so now that some of the restrictions have been lifted, we are expecting more traffic," said Lester. "Not anywhere near 2019, but more than November."
Additional staff is brought in whenever a "normal" Masters Tournament happens to help facilitate all of the traffic that's coming in.
The Aiken airport gets people from all over the country who come to the airport so they can go to the Masters Tournament. This varies year by year, however.
"Once people file their flight plan, then you know where they're coming from," said Lester. "So, until a flight plan has been filed, you don't know who's coming or where they're coming from ..."
Golfers, spectators and anyone else who chooses to be at the airport should naturally expect to follow safety measures.
When asked if the airport is doing anything different this year or just in preparation for the Masters, Lester said she doesn't think so, other than having hand sanitizer and that one has to wear a mask.
"Of course, it's a city facility, so that's a requirement," she added. "But other than that, just trying to provide the same level of service, given the circumstances with COVID-19."