Posted: Monday, March 17, 2014 12:00 am By Steve DeVane Staff writer
CARTHAGE – If Donald Trump comes to the U.S. Open golf championships in Pinehurst this summer, the Moore County Airport is ready for him and his plane.
The airport has undergone a number of upgrades to prepare for the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open, which will be played for the first time on back-to-back weeks on the same course.
The $9 million expansion and renovation included lengthening the runway by 1,000 feet to 6,500 feet, expanding the aircraft apron area and renovating the main terminal building and conference room. Traditional airport terminal seats were replaced by oversized, comfortable chairs.
“The Open was an impetus to move some of these things up,” said Steve Borden, the airport’s executive director.
The U.S Open is scheduled for June 12-15 on Pinehurst Resort’s No. 2 Course. The U.S. Women’s Open will be played there June 19-22.
Borden said Trump’s 727 airliner landed at the airport when he came to Pinehurst in 2005, when the U.S. Open was last played at the resort. Now, Trump has a larger 757.
“We haven’t heard from him yet, but we’re expecting to,” Borden said.
Trump’s jet and all the other planes carrying people coming to the tournaments will have more room to park than they did in 2005.
The airport has parking for 70 to 100 aircraft based on size and arrival frequency.
Added space allows the airport to handle nearly twice as many medium-sized business jets as before the expansion.
Borden said the first call about this year’s championship came the day after the 2013 U.S. Open ended.
“It was a gentlemen reserving a parking space for this year’s tournament,” he said.
The airport has about 15 reservations now and expects more in the coming months.
The airport expects to see about 3,000 to 4,000 flights during the two weeks of the tournaments. That’s about 10 times more than usual, Borden said.
The Airport Authority has hired private contractors to handle air traffic control during the tournaments. The air traffic controllers will use a temporary control tower to manage the planes.
Borden said the conference room at the airport will be transformed into a hospitality area during the championships. He said the facility wants to make a good first and last impression for the county.
The airport will be the gateway to Moore County for people from all over the country and the world, Borden said.
“We take great pride in the fact that we are that gateway,” he said. “We want to provide a warm welcome and a fond farewell.”
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