Because of a new Masters Week reservation system for private aircraft, traffic dropped at Augusta Regional Airport and Daniel Field saw a steep increase.
At Daniel Field, the combined number of arrivals and departures increased from 862 to 1,219, a 30 percent jump from 2012. The number of arrivals and departures at Augusta Regional dropped by 208, to a total of 2,047.
The traffic shifts were the result of a new booking system meant to send private aircraft to four area airports and alleviate parking shortages at Augusta Regional.
For the first time, Augusta Regional, Daniel Field, Thomson-McDuffie Regional and Aiken Municipal airports required visitors to reserve parking spots.
“It was a great success,” Augusta Regional spokeswoman Lauren Smith said. “We think it was excellent and we think we’re going to do it again next year.”
In recent years, the Federal Aviation Administration ordered ground stops – prohibitions from landing or taking off – when Augusta Regional filled space on its parking ramp, causing planes to divert elsewhere.
“We didn’t have a ground stop, and that was the whole purpose of this,” said Becky Shealy, the marketing director for Augusta Aviation Inc., which operates Daniel Field, at Monday’s general aviation commission meeting.
“We were very happy and hope to see a repeat of 2013 in future years,” Shealy said.
The airports measure Masters Week activity beginning the Sunday before the Masters Tournament through the Monday after.
“The other airports were making up for what we lost,” Smith said. “They were still coming in (to Augusta), just not here.”
Shealy said 80 percent of Daniel Field’s Masters traffic was corporate business.
A joint meeting for representatives from the four airports is scheduled for April 29 to review the first year of the new reservation system.