AUGUSTA – The Augusta State Airport will use a $100,000 federal grant to market itself in an effort to double ridership.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that the city-run, state-owned airport will receive the grant to help fund a marketing campaign intended to increase the number of people who fly to and from Augusta.

Airport Manager John Guimond said the grant will fund a survey and other market research, and launch the marketing campaign.

He said he hopes the campaign can help the airport continue a recent trend of increasing ridership.

Guimond said the number of ”enplanements” in Augusta increased 8 to 9 percent last year, to about 5,000. His goal is twice that.

As a federally designated Essential Air Service airport — basically, an airport that would not be financially viable without federal funding — Augusta could get as much as $1 million in additional federal funding for improvements if it reaches 10,000-enplanements per year, Guimond said.

”With a really nice marketing campaign, I think we can really see some bigger numbers,” he said.

”There was a time, in the early ’80s, when we did almost 40,000 passengers (in one year) at this airport.”

The grant is one of 19 grants, totaling $6.4 million, awarded this year through the Small Community Air Service Development Program, which began in 2002. ”Local air service provides support to local businesses and local jobs,” LaHood said in a news release.

”These grants will help support and sustain efforts by small communities to preserve and expand their links to the national air transportation system, connecting residents to the U.S. economy.”

Guimond said the Augusta airport will survey users of the airport to determine why they fly out of Augusta.


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