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Despite advertising the fastest time between touchdown and Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, the Rock Hill-York County Airport is not expecting a boom in business from the Democratic National Convention.
To prepare for the convention, the airport recently completed a $2 million runway repaving project. Another fuel truck has been added. The airport has extensively advertised its location and convention advantages to the aviation community.
But so far, interest in landing at UZA – the FAA’s designation for the airport – has been minimal.
“We don’t have any reservations,” said Michael Fitzgerald, executive vice president for Skytech, the airport’s fixed-based operator that sells fuel, provides maintenance and meets other needs of incoming passengers and planes.
Flight plans, however, cannot be filed in advance, so the destination of those flying themselves to the convention won’t be known early.
Fitzgerald said his “impression” is those flying corporate-sized jets to the convention will land at Charlotte-Douglas International despite temporary flight restrictions that will make landing there more difficult for non-scheduled flights.
The restrictions, which go into effect from Sept. 3-7, will require non-scheduled flights to stop at either Greenville/Spartanburg or the Greensboro, N.C., airports between 4 p.m. and midnight to be screened by the agents of the Transportation Security Administration before they can land at Charlotte.
The stop should add about two hours to time needed to arrive at Charlotte, said Fitzgerald.
The temporary flight restrictions also will affect operations at the Rock Hill airport, said Eric Ramsdell, the airport’s administrator.
Preliminary restrictions sent to the airport include no flight training, no practice landings or takeoffs, no loitering in the airspace around Rock Hill and no agricultural spraying.
The restrictions can be changed quickly depending on the arrival and departure of either the president or vice president.
“This will shut down the little guys at the airport,” Fitzgerald said.
Ramsdell said the Rock Hill airport will “handle whatever comes our way.” He said the airport has the capacity to park between 20 and 30 planes.
Representatives from the TSA will be at the Rock Hill airport Monday through Friday, Ramsdell said. They will be there to observe, not inspect, operations, Ramsdell said. A security team from the Department of Homeland Security is also expected to be at the airport on Wednesday, he said.