Aviation history had an exciting start in Fayetteville starting in 1912 with the first air passenger of record. According to report, a volunteer was accidentally caught in the ropes of a balloon that broke free and ascended rapidly taking the unexpected passenger with.
In the 1930’s Fayetteville’s original airport was established on Raleigh Road, located just across from the Methodist College campus. Unable to meet demands, the Airport Commission formed in 1947 and secured 722 acres one mile east of US 301 to construct the airport which we currently know today. Construction began in 1948 and the airport was opened in 1949 with Piedmont Airlines being the first scheduled airline to service local travelers.
Over the next 20 years traffic continued to increase, going from an annual 756 passenger boarding’s in 1949 to 68,816 by 1966. Due to increased traffic counts, the original facility was no longer keeping up with demand. Therefore, in November of 1966, Fayetteville voters approved the $2.5 million Airport Bond Issue proposed by the Airport Commission and the City Council. Thus, Phase I of Fayetteville’s Master Plan for its Airport of the Future was immediately implemented. And the federal government’s grant of $1.5 million for airport improvement and expansion brought the project to the $4 million mark. Runways were lengthened and reinforced to accommodate Boeing 737 jets and a new terminal was erected.
Improvements and growth continued over the next several decades including the construction of a $400,000 control tower opening in 1972 and a $200,000 general aviation complex just a short time later.
In March 1987 the grand opening of the 43,000 square foot Concourse B was revealed to the public. With 4 new loading gates, the expansion was an $8.6 million project in total. The project also expanded the baggage claim and ticketing areas. The building additions greatly improved terminal flow, safety and accessibility for travelers.
Fayetteville Regional continued to work on growth and traveler improvements over the next several years, receiving FAA Entitlement grants for terminal improvement projects from 1999 through 2006. The renovation project was completed in three parts.
- Airport Terminal Renovation Part I 1999 – Replaced carpeting, created a fire egress stairwell, renovated restroom sinks, renovated airline and rental car ticket counters, upgraded half of the terminals HVAC systems to central chillers/boiler and air handlers, and new stairs to Airport Directors Offices.
- Airport Terminal Renovation Part II 2003 - Upgraded the remainder of HVAC systems to central chillers/boiler and air handlers, upgraded ceilings and lighting in baggage claim and concourse B, new Public Address system,
- Airport Terminal Renovation Part III 2006 – Two bag lifts in Concourse B, installed terrazzo on high traffic areas, new carpet squares in seating areas, new conference room on the lower level, automatic lighting controls, new terminal seating, TSA security screening improvements, and Jet Bridge modifications.
The Airport industry began promoting to the FAA that Non-hub airports needed access to discretionary funding to assist with terminal upgrading projects. In 2010 Congress approved a special non-hub airport discretionary program that provided $20 million dollars to renovate or build new terminals. In 20012 FAY developed a plan to renovate the terminal and applied for funding in 2014. In Federal Fiscal year 2016 the FAA awarded the first ½ of our discretionary grant in the amount of $10 million and we added $4 million of entitlement funds for Terminal Improvement Project Part I. FAY is requesting the second ½ of the discretionary grant in Federal fiscal year 2019 to fund Terminal Improvement Project Part II.
In the past 24 years the Airport has received $106 million in Federal, State and Passenger Facility Funding to support capital improvement projects.