How a planned Savannah airport expansion could make your travel time more pleasant

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If you use the Savannah- Hilton Head International Airport to reach or depart this corner of the world, you may see shorter lines and more gates in the coming years.

The airport took the first step in a massive expansion project last week, which will create more parking for aircraft, double the number of security checkpoint lanes to six, and add four additional gates in the terminal.

The Savannah Airport Commission voted to accept a $7.6 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration on Oct. 3. It will use the money to fund the first of a two-phase project, according to Lori Lynah, director of marketing and air service development for the airport.

Lynah said the first phase, expected to begin before the end of the year, will expand the terminal’s “apron,” where airplanes park before approaching the gates. She said the apron project will help support more planes moving through the airport, which often acts as a “diversion” point for flights that cannot land in Atlanta due to weather or congestion.

The second phase is expected to impact travelers more directly.

That phase will add additional gates and security checkpoint lanes, Lynah said.

She said that project will start in 2019. Travelers should move faster move through security once it’s complete in 2020, Lynah said.

She said the additional gates could lead to more traffic and flight options.

“We fully expect to have more airlines and add more flights,” Lynah said. “That’s in our future as we continue to grow.”

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According to the airport’s website, the number of passengers using the airport is rising. There were just over 953,000 arrivals at the airport in 2014. The airport nearly hit that mark for the year by August of 2018.

The airport is on track to surpass last year’s 1.2 million arrivals and 1.2 million departures in 2018, the website said.

The airport, seven miles from the South Carolina stateline, serves both states.

Lynah said around 50 percent of passengers stay in Georgia and the other 50 percent head into South Carolina.