Masters Week bookings for private aircraft flying into Augusta Regional Airport have nearly reached full occupancy, leaving other planes to land elsewhere.
Augusta’s main airport has filled its general aviation reservations beginning April 10 through Masters Sunday, April 14, said Ken Hinkel, the deputy director of airport services for Augusta Regional.
For the first time, Augusta Regional, Daniel Field, Thomson-McDuffie Regional and Aiken Municipal airports require visitors to reserve parking spots. The plan is meant to better use the airports’ combined parking capacity and alleviate parking shortages at Augusta Regional.
“Our (parking) ramp would become full and some aircraft were being diverted to other airports,” Hinkel said.
That caused the Federal Aviation Administration to redirect aircraft to other airports. Many planes ended up at Daniel Field or in Aiken and Thomson even though passengers had arranged for cars and food at Augusta Regional.
Augusta Regional accepted reservations beginning Feb. 1 and filled to capacity for tournament days the first week of March. Limited reservations are available April 7-9, Hinkel said.
The airport has 85 parking spots for aircraft, down from 140 to 150 in previous years, Hinkel said. A taxiway that was used for auxiliary parking will not be used this year.
Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport does not expect an increase in planes using its runways, said Keith Bounds, the airport’s general manager.
“Last year, we would get the planes except they were announced and unplanned,” Bounds said. “The same planes are going to the same places, now with forethought and planning.”
The airport handles a few hundred planes during Masters Week, he said.
Becky Shealy, the marketing director of Augusta Aviation Inc., the operator of Daniel Field, said the airport is fielding calls from customers with medium-size jets that didn’t book Augusta Regional before it filled up.
“The phone calls for us are just starting to come in,” Shealy said Monday.
Augusta Regional started a waiting list, but Hinkel said it’s ulikely that customers will cancel Masters Week reservations.