The Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE) has been awarded $5 million after its application was selected as part of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. CAE was one of 99 airports (of the nearly 383 primary commercial service airports) from across the country to receive funding for various projects and improvements to facilities, ensuring more efficient airports.
The funding will come from the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Airport Terminals Program (ATP) fund. CAE was only one of two airports in South Carolina to receive funding from the 2023 program.
From a statement put out by the Biden Harris Administration, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg commented: “Americans deserve the best airports in the world, and with demand for air travel surging back, this funding to improve the passenger experience comes at the right time. These grants will make it faster and easier to check your bags, get through security and find your gate, all while creating jobs and supporting local economies.”
The funding will support CAE’s checkpoint modernization project that will begin this summer. Within the scope of that project, CAE will look to widen the checkpoint increasing the number of screening lanes – allowing for more passengers to be screened in less time.
“These funds will enhance the overall passenger experience at CAE, providing a more streamlined, effective and easy screening experience for our passengers,” says Executive Director, Mike Gula. “We are thankful for this financial support to begin work and look forward to continuing to grow this airport for good.”
CAE’s current master plan predicts that the airport will exceed *800,000 enplanements in the next five years – a major driver for this expansion project to take place now. (*For comparison, in 2022, CAE had 527,599 enplanements).
Recently, CAE completed phase II of a multi-phase Common Use and Checked Baggage Inspection System (CBIS) project in the main lobby and entrance of the airport. The Common Use system allows ticket desks and ticketing kiosks to operate universally (no matter the airline) creating a seamless transaction process for both airline partners and passengers. The CBIS replaced the need for external scanners and increased the amount of checked bags able to be processed on any given day. Additionally, now passengers do not have to walk bags over to a scanner – they are processed at the ticket counter and handled by airline agents.
“We are regularly researching and studying ways to improve the passenger experience here at CAE,” said Director of Development and Planning, Frank Murray. “These funds will allow us to continue working on improvements and enhancements that will have a positive effect on our passengers travel journey.”