News & Events

Concord Regional Airport Receives Destination Visionary Award

Monday, May 9, 2016

he Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Cabarrus Economic Development Corporation and Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce joined together to recognize outstanding individuals and businesses and to celebrate the wins of the community at the third annual Celebrate Cabarrus Friday, May 6 at Great Wolf Lodge. Each organization presented awards of excellence for their respective areas.  

The CVB’s Golden Helmet Awards went to the following: 

  • Hotel of the Year – Hilton Garden Inn Charlotte/Concord 

  • Attraction of the Year – Hendrick Motorsports 

  • Small Business of the Year – Southern Grace Distilleries 

  • Restaurant of the Year – Gianni’s Trattoria 

  • Outstanding Ambassador – Terry Crawford, Cabarrus Economic Development Corporation 

  • Unsung Hero – Eddie Ray, North Carolina Music Hall of Fame 

  • Hospitality Professional of the Year – Dianne Eckert, Charlotte Motor Speedway 

  • Visitor Center Referral Winner – Shirley Lamoreux, Hendrick Motorsports 

  • Hometown Hero – The Avett Family 

  • Destination Visionary Award – Concord Regional Airport 

  

Concord Regional Airport: It’s Taking Off

Sunday, May 1, 2016

May 01, 2016 08:30AM,

Published by Jason Huddle

Cabarrus Magazine

 


The large aerial photos hanging on the conference room wall at Concord Regional Airport narrate how far the county has come in air travel in a short period of time.

Concord Regional was built in 1994 after a politically heated debate between Cabarrus County government (for growth) and a segment of the local citizenship (against growth) in an election year. We all know how that ended. The City now owns and operates the airport and hired Rick Cloutier as its aviation director in 2012.

Coming to Concord from Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport in Maine, Cloutier served as airport director there for six years. During his four years in Concord, he’s already witnessed the addition of Allegiant Airlines, which introduced commercial flights to and from Orlando and St. Petersburg, FL, in December of 2013. Fort Lauderdale followed in May 2014 and has become very popular, according to Cloutier. Allegiant has increased its number of flights since that time, now flying into and out of Concord every day of the week except Tuesday.

“Fifteen-thousand people flew on Allegiant in March alone,” Cloutier shares. “The flights were, on average, at 97 percent capacity compared to 91 percent normally.”

Spring breakers accounted for those particular numbers, but the steady increase of destination vacationers taking advantage of Concord’s commercial flights has prompted the City of Concord to expand for Allegiant with the construction of a new ramp, terminal and parking deck. The last large-scale project at the airport took place 10 years ago with the extension of the runway from 5,500 feet in length to 7,400 feet.

The ramp expansion – funded with a $4.37-million grant awarded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), along with City airport monies – cost $4.9 million. The 250,000-square-yard, two-foot-thick block of concrete can accommodate three large planes – 737s and larger – and sits completed and adjacent to the new terminal construction site at the southern end of the airport. It will help traffic flow for taxiing aircraft and allow Allegiant to park their planes next to a terminal that will offer restrooms and fresh food vending. At a cost of $6.7 million, 95 percent of the funding has come from the federal and state government. The other 5 percent is basically being divided between the City of Concord and a financing agreement.

Since the current Allegiant terminal is temporary – walls and all – this new, still-basic 30,000-square-foot terminal is a definite improvement. It’s also likely to entice expanded destinations on the part of Allegiant and/or other commercial carriers to enter the race. Cloutier would not elaborate on what other airlines and, as he’s told many others who have inquired, says, “Other airlines are interested and we’ve had conversations with other airlines. We have a spring meeting with Allegiant later this month (April) and then will be able to announce other (Allegiant) destinations and frequencies.”

In 2014, the most current year for statistics, Concord Regional was the fifth busiest airport in North Carolina; no private or corporate passenger numbers were included. And Allegiant accounted for 140,000 passengers in 2015 while charter flights accounted for 40,000. Cloutier expects Concord to rise to no. 4 when 2015 rankings are released.

Adjacent to the new terminal is a two-level parking deck that will hold 650-plus vehicles and cost $5.5 million. That is being paid for with airport parking revenue. When viewing the construction site, it appears to be in a hole, but the end product will see the top parking deck sit level with the terminal ground floor. Completion of both the terminal and deck are on time and on budget at this point, and slated for completion this July.

This phase also allows Concord Regional’s general aviation and commercial aviation to be separate – a Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) requirement. The two divisions have different security requirements and, “We are also separating them so we can continue to service and grow both parts,” Cloutier explains.

Along with the changes Concord Regional is seeing in commercial aviation is the facility’s move away from housing NASCAR teams’ aircraft. Yes, some team owners still keep small planes that can carry them to race city sites, but team staff is now being transported on charter flights by the likes of Miami Air, Southwest and Xtra Airways. Hendrick, Joe Gibbs Racing and Stewart-Haas are a few of the exceptions but Roush Racing, whose older planes’ engine lives expired, now utilize charters. The cost savings is a given. Cloutier says that area sports teams, from the likes of UNC Charlotte and Davidson College, are also taking advantage of charter flights out of Concord.

That said, Allegiant Airlines announced in March that it has been named the official passenger airline of NASCAR. This first-of-its-kind multi-year partnership will afford NASCAR fans flights to 20-plus race cities, like far-away Las Vegas, Phoenix and Los Angeles. It also goes back to the aforementioned spring meeting with Allegiant, so Cabarrus Magazine readers should know the outcome by the time this issue hits the streets.

Next door to Concord Regional Airport is corporate construction on a monumental scale. At the entrance to the facility, and adjacent to Amazon, the Silverman Group is constructing spec buildings on 56 acres as part of Concord Airport Business Park’s Phase I. In the hopes of attracting industrial lessees, phases II and III will follow.

In conjunction with the construction in this corridor of the county, the NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and Cabarrus Rowan Metropolitan Planning Organization (CRMPO) plan to widen the 2.6-mile section of Derita Road between Poplar Tent Road and Concord Mills Boulevard. The end result will be a four-lane road with a 23-foot median and 14-foot bicycle lanes.

So, if Concord Regional is experiencing pivotal growth, will a second runway be added? Cloutier says no and stresses that one runway is able to handle a large number of planes. It’s all about coordinating air traffic.

 “You need a plane to land every three minutes for a second runway,” he says, but adds that the airport has a large tract of undeveloped land between it and Concord Mills Boulevard. In the meantime, improvements continue in the form of customer service, runway strengthening, hangar construction and airliner approaches.

Yes, Concord Regional is a smaller airport with fewer amenities than Charlotte-Douglas International. That’s appealing to many, however, especially those who fly often. And it’s right here in Cabarrus County.

“Charlotte is a great airport with a lot of great destinations,” Cloutier says. “We don’t want to compete. We’re an alternative to Charlotte.”

Article by: Kimberly Cassell

Rick Cloutier photo by Michael A. Anderson Photography

Rendering Courtesy: Concord Regional Airport

 

NASCAR-Allegiant connection – more business for Concord Regional?

Thursday, April 14, 2016


Posted: Wednesday, April 13, 2016 11:55 am

By Michael Knox | mknox@independenttribune.com

CONCORD — Concord Regional Airport’s construction of a new terminal and parking deck are on schedule to be completed in July and will be ready if Allegiant Air decides to expand services after the recent announcement of its partnership with NASCAR.

In March, NASCAR and Allegiant Air announced a multi-year agreement designating the travel company as the Official Passenger Airline of NASCAR.

The newly forged partnership positions Allegiant as the first-ever “Official Passenger Airline Partner” of the sanctioning body. Allegiant will allow fans to take advantage of its services to enjoy races in more than 20 NASCAR race markets, including NASCAR’s entire west coast series of events in Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles, according to a press release. The airline is based out of Nevada.

At the Concord City Council workshop Tuesday, Concord Regional Airport Director Rick Cloutier gave an update on the construction of the terminal and parking deck and briefly discussed the NASCAR partnership, after council person Brian King asked if the announcement meant an increase in the number of commercial flights offered at Concord Regional Airport.

 “That affects us on a whole, it doesn’t necessarily affect us for additional operations, but since we are NASCAR’s airport so to speak, the partnership with Allegiant/NASCAR will help grow our service in the future to different destinations that we might not of had before,” Cloutier said. “Without giving out any confidential information, that’s about the best answer I can give you. I have a meeting with Allegiant next week and then that’s the time we actually solidify destinations and increased service for the following upcoming year, so hopefully by the end of the month we should have a pretty definitive answer on how much increase we’ll have.”

The airport is building a 30,000-square-foot terminal and a 652-space parking deck that will separate commercial operations from general aviation operations, such as the NASCAR teams that house their own planes at the airport.

The terminal looks to cost $6.7 million with 95 percent of that paid for with state and federal funding. The parking deck is $5.6 million project that the city council will pay for using a loan that will be paid back with parking fee revenues

 

Concord airport growing up

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Over the past two years, Concord’s airport has been carving out a new niche in the Charlotte region’s air travel business.

As airports go, Concord Regional is still young, at 21 years old. The city of Concord built it to encourage economic development and to help accommodate the Charlotte region’s general aviation traffic.

In the 1990s, the airport also emerged as a perfect partner for NASCAR teams. As racing expanded coast-to-coast, Concord Regional became known as “NASCAR’s Airport,” a convenient base for team-owned and charter jets taking crews to the weekly races.

But Concord Deputy City Manager Merl Hamilton says it’s not just NASCAR that makes the airport an economic engine for the area. “We have a lot of local businesses that fly out of here,” says Hamilton. He cites Concord-based S&D Coffee and Electrolux, which has its North American headquarters in Charlotte.

This year, Concord Regional is expected to have more than 55,000 takeoffs and landings. That’s roughly one-tenth the number of planes coming and going at Charlotte Douglas International. Still, at Concord’s airport, you might spot recognizable figures, from North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory to entertainer Kid Rock, using the airport as a quick way in and out of the Charlotte area.

These days, you might also see a crowd of people wearing flip-flops, walking across the tarmac to an awaiting jet that has a sunshine logo on its tail. In December 2013, Allegiant Airlines began offering two flights per week between Concord and an airport in Sanford, Fla., near Orlando. It was the first scheduled commercial airline service at Concord’s airport. Allegiant now has nine weekly flights, including service to Ft. Lauderdale and the Tampa Bay area.

Concord’s Allegiant flights offer a low-cost alternative for passengers like Stewart Gold, who calls both Charlotte and Ft. Lauderdale home. “It’s dramatically cheaper to fly Allegiant into Concord, as opposed to flying into Charlotte Douglas,” says Gold.

Along with discount fares, many travelers also like the convenience and smaller scale of Concord Regional. “It’s about 10 minutes from our house to get here,” says Jane Edwards of Davidson, who was headed to a conference in Orlando. “We can unload right at the door, and we don’t have to walk so far as we do if we use Charlotte Douglas,” she added.

Concord Regional is definitely not Charlotte Douglas International. Currently, Allegiant passengers check in for their flights inside an old aircraft hangar. The airport converted it into a makeshift terminal when commercial airline service began. Orlando-bound passenger James Kudalis can’t help but make a humorous comparison. “It reminds me of Wings (the 1990s television sitcom),” Kudalis jokes. “But once we figured out we could park on the grass and we got through, it was, like, super easy.”

The days of parking on the grass – and Concord Regional’s “sitcom” atmosphere – should soon disappear. Construction is underway on a new passenger terminal and a 600-space parking deck. Both facilities are scheduled to open in July.

Rick Cloutier, aviation director for the city of Concord, says the airport expansion will help put a little distance between Concord Regional’s general aviation traffic and the newer commercial airline service. The new terminal will have two gates instead of the current single gate. “That will allow us to meet our demands now, and possibly have some controlled growth going forward,” says Cloutier.

Concord officials say Allegiant Airlines has expressed interest in adding a few destinations from the city’s airport, which could attract additional travelers in search of cheap fares and sunny destinations.

Allegiant’s low fares may be hard to resist. But passengers who choose the discount carrier should keep a few things in mind, according to airline industry analyst Seth Kaplan, with the publication Airline Weekly. “This is not an airline where, if something goes wrong with your flight, there’s going to be another flight an hour later,” Kaplan explains. “This is not an airline that is going to re-accommodate you on another airline.”

The small number of Allegiant flights at an airport like Concord’s can lead to long delays for passengers, for example if a plane has a mechanical problem. Allegiant isn’t required to report statistics on flight cancellations and delays. The airline has also faced questions about safety.

Rick Cloutier says some other discount carriers have also expressed interest in serving Concord. But city leaders don’t have any grand visions for a huge airport. For one thing, airport managers say, there’s no room to build a second runway.

Keeping Concord Regional accessible seems to be a high priority for airport officials. That philosophy even extends to those whom Cloutier calls the airport’s “Friday night visitors.” They aren’t catching a flight. But they like to come out on warm summer evenings, when a food truck shows up at the airport. “They watch the aircraft come and go, they’ll sit on the grass, get something from the food truck,” says Cloutier. “We’ve kept that in place with our new construction.”

With an attitude like that, maybe the words airport and hassle don’t always go hand-in-hand.


 

Concord Regional Airport Moves Forward with Plans for New Terminal

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


By Carly Stephenson
Monday, September 14, 2015 at 05:34 PM EDT


http://www.twcnews.com/nc/charlotte/news/2015/09/14/concord-regional-airport-moves-forward-with-plans-for-new-terminal.html

CONCORD -- Concord Regional Airport will have a new terminal in about a year. Construction is moving forward after city council approved a Federal Aviation Administration grant to fund the project. The new terminal will be for commercial flights. It’s a move city leaders say could mean more visitors and more airlines coming to Cabarrus County.

Concord Regional Airport is already working on new construction. Airport officials say a new ramp for larger plans is expected to be finished in about a week. In about a year, workers will also build a new commercial service terminal.

“Commercial has grown and it’s very useful and very popular in the community and it helps us because many people fly to Concord, surprisingly,” said Merl Hamilton, Concord’s Deputy City Manager.

Currently, visitors generate about $400.3 million in visitor spending in Cabarrus County. The Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau expects that number to grow with the possibility of new flights.

“New carriers coming in would connect us maybe to some Midwestern states, as well as other southern states,” said Donna Carpenter, the President and CEO of the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Allegiant Air currently offers flights to and from parts of Florida.

“I think they’ll be more destinations they want to attend and certainly we’ve had a lot of people now enjoy the destinations down to Florida,” said Hamilton.

Allegiant Air has more than 90% occupancy on average for flights to and from Concord. City leaders say the project, which costs more than $6 million, will also help separate growing commercial flights from general aviation.

“Not only help move away the commercial flights themselves, but it will relieve that significant parking crunch that we have at the airport now particularly when NASCAR is in season,” said Hamilton.

Offering more flights and making sure all passengers and pilots have a comfortable experience is another goal.

“We would expect that it would increase our leisure traffic here and that always equals you know new attractions, new hotels, new restaurants,” said Carpenter.

 

Funds for the parking deck shown in the plans by Talbert, Bright and Ellington have not been approved yet. A vote by city council on money for the deck is expected in October.