FLORENCE, S.C. -- The Florence Regional Airport, at 2100 Terminal Drive, now has 100 percent jet service. This has been the status since July 4, 2018.

As a result, executive director Connie Anderson said the airport has seen a 5 percent increase of passengers flying out of Florence. She said this is a positive for the airport, which was seeing a decline before this.

She said the increase in passengers flying out of Florence shows the airport is gradually gaining the community’s trust.

“We had lost the trust of the community,” she said.

Anderson said the airport went to American Airlines and made the request to have 100 percent jets flying out of Florence.

Within the past year, the airport embarked on a $4.8 million capital project to build a new public safety facility. The Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Station was completed in late December/early January.

“It was built with growth in mind,” Anderson said. “It is set up to accommodate training for our public safety officers.”

The building has a new training room, two bedrooms, a kitchen and a workout room. It houses two fire trucks, one traditional and one ARFF truck, said Robert Norton, deputy director of the Florence Regional Airport. He is in charge of operations and security.

It houses two fire trucks. One is an ARFF truck, which is a special category of firetruck that Norton says does everything from inside the truck. These trucks are Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting vehicles. At the scene of a crash, ARFF relies on what can be carried in its water tanks.

The building was paid for with grants that were 90 percent federal, 5 percent state and 5 percent local.

Anderson said it will be necessary to increase staff to accommodate a new airline. The airport has a total staff of 15 currently with six public safety officers.

“I would love to see another airline come here before I retire,” Anderson said.

She said she would like to see competitive and reliable service from the airport. All flights out of the airport go to Charlotte, she said.

“We average four flights a day,” Anderson said.

This month the airport will return to four flights every day, she said.

“I love American Airlines and would love to establish a relationship with another airline,” she said.

The airport completed a stormwater drainage project in December2018. It cost roughly $5.2 million to replace the old World War II drainage pipes throughout the entire airport, she said.

“Most of our projects coming up are security related,” she said. “We have a new fencing project coming up this year.”

Norton said the new fencing will be 8 feet high. He said this is a new requirement of Homeland Security.

The airport is also working on a lighting project that will cost more than $2 million.

A community project the airport will continue this summer, Anderson said, is the public safety reading program. She said last year the program had 98 children participate.

“This is a small way for us to give back to the community,” she said.

Each Tuesday, the public safety officers will read to children to help promote students summer reading. Anderson said guest readers also participate.

If anyone would like to contribute to the project, Anderson said, the program is looking for sponsors.

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