More direct flights are coming to Hilton Head airport. Here’s where they’ll take you
It’s no secret that the Hilton Head Island Airport is growing.
Now, the airport has secured funding to expand the terminal, according to a news release.
On Wednesday, Beaufort County Airports Director Jon Rembold announced the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded $10 million to the airport for “infrastructure investment,” according to the release.
Hilton Head’s grant is part of a larger program that awarded $779 million to airports, “especially those serving smaller and rural communities,” according to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.
The $10 million grant will fund the terminal expansion, ”specifically targeting increased airline traffic, meeting the needs of a growing number of airline customers while keeping within the historical, geographical and budgetary boundaries of Beaufort County’s development plans,” Rembold said.
Delta begins flights between Atlanta and Hilton Head May 23, and adds routes to New York City on June 8.
The terminal is expected to have new ticketing counters for Delta and United, Rembold told The Island Packet Wednesday. The new terminal will also add customer services such as concessions and convenience shopping, Rembold said.
He said the project is expected to be complete in the next three to four years, but could not provide renderings of the project Wednesday.
“Now that we’re getting good news about funding, we will move onto the next stages of design,” he said. “But it’ll be a much more comfortable, customer- oriented experience. We can’t wait to modernize things.”
Rembold added that the current terminal is a “pre-9/11” building that “doesn’t have the smoothest flow,” with new security checkpoints.
Two other projects are also in progress at the airport: one that would double the number of parking spaces and another that will change the entrance from Beach City Road.
Currently, the airport has 150 parking spaces. The project to double parking is independent of the terminal expansion and not funded by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Funding for the parking spaces is not secured yet, Rembold said. But, he said the airports board is “still working on that.”
The entrance will get a new sign and landscaping, according to application materials filed to the Town of Hilton Head Island April 9.
That project will be funded with $100,000 of 2018 accommodations tax money and bonds from Beaufort County, Rembold said. It is “making its way through the final approvals” from the town.
‘We were put in this situation by them’
Increasing the footprint of the airport isn’t exciting for everyone, though.
Residents that live in nearby Palmetto Hall Plantation have long worried about the noise of commercial jets landing at the airport, and a historic school and church that sit north of the runway are in the process of being moved to accommodate federal runway object-free zones, according to previous reporting by The Island Packet.
Since Feb. 19 Hilton Head Island Town Council has been discussing land acquisition related to St. James Baptist Church and the Old Cherry Hill School in executive session.
The church has put together a committee to participate in the negotiations, but pastor Charles Hamilton told The Island Packet in March that the relocation of the school and the construction of a new church will temporarily fracture the community that calls the Gullah buildings home.
“We were put in this situation by them, we didn’t ask to be here,” he said of the town and the airport. “When we move, they’re responsible for that. They’re responsible for making us whole again.”