Smithfield Herald

Airport will replace terminal

The Johnston County Airport is replacing its terminal with one that will provide more space both in the building and on the tarmac.

The new building will be 8,600 square feet; the current one is 2,500. “We’ve just about outgrown the building we have here,” said Ray Blackmon, the airport’s director.

The current terminal opened in 1978; a year later, the airport had 12 airplanes based in its hangars. Today, that number is 110. In 2000, the airport had about 30 flights a day. Today, that number is about 60.

“In 35 years, the Johnston County Airport has grown, much like the area has grown,” Blackmon said.

The terminal project will cost about $3.3 million, Blackmon said, with the cost split almost evenly among the Federal Aviation Administration, the state and the airport, which makes money from selling fuel and leasing hangars. Daniels and Daniels Construction won the contract to build the terminal.

The airport has five full-time staff and five part-time workers.

The new terminal will have a bigger pilot’s lounge, with quiet space and lockers. It will also have a conference room, offices, space for the service staff and a large lobby shaped like an airplane.

The county’s economic-development office will move into the new terminal, which will have about 800 square feet of space reserved for the department. County Manager Rick Hester said officials have been talking for a while about the possibility. Some other airports have paired the two, Hester said. The location is convenient for businesses that fly into the airport and has better parking than the courthouse, he said.

Hester said moving economic development to the airport will free up some office space at the courthouse.

The airport will use the existing terminal until the new building is finished, Blackmon said. It will then raze the old building.

The new terminal, Blackmon said, will be closer to Swift Creek Road, allowing the airport to create more tarmac space. When a plane stays at the airport for a short period, such as to refuel or to give the pilot a break, it sits out on the tarmac. That area is currently about 48,000 square feet. After the current terminal is demolished, that area will be paved over to expand the tarmac to about 78,000 square feet.

When multiple aircraft park on the tarmac, it can become crowded, Blackmon said. Adding the space will also provide more taxiway clearance, allowing airplanes to pass by each other more easily, he said.

“It will greatly enhance our ability to accommodate the larger aircraft,” Blackmon said.