Augusta Regional Airport becomes a private jet parking lot packed with planes during Master Week

Augusta Regional Airport becomes a private jet parking lot packed with planes during Master Week
Augusta Regional Airport becomes hectic during Masters week.via Augusta Regional Airport
  • The Masters turns Augusta Regional airport into a hectic hub for just one week every year.
  • The airport adds several direct flights and hires more than 100 new employees to handle the 30,000-plus people who come through to watch golf.

When the best talent in golf descend upon Augusta National every year, it turns Augusta Regional into an international hub.

No week is busier for the quaint airport located about 13 miles from the world-famous golf course that hosts the Masters.

Augusta Regional only has two runways and six gates. It has two restaurants on site. It typically only serves two airlines to four U.S. cities — Delta to Atlanta, and American to Charlotte, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Washington D.C.

But when the Masters rolls around each April, Augusta Regional's operations swell.

"Cities [get] the Super Bowl each year," said Lauren Smith, the airport's assistant director of marketing and public relations. "This is like Super Bowl traffic for 10 days for us."


For the Masters, Augusta Regional expands its operations, with airlines adding direct flights from New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Miami and Austin.

Augusta Regional Airport becomes a private jet parking lot packed with planes during Master Week
Augusta Regional Airport sees about four times its usual traffic during Masters week.via Augusta Regional Airport

Tim Weegar, the airport's director of operations, said they'll typically see about 1,500 to 1,600 "corporate" jets — i.e. private jets — land in Augusta for the Masters. For non-commercial flights, the airport measures by the number of jets coming in because there are rarely head-counts.

So how many people might pass through the airport over the course of the Masters?

"On average, about 30, 35,000 people," Weegar said.

Smith added: "On an average, we see 20-30,000 people a month, and we'll see that just this week alone on the commercial side."


The airport also hires "well over" 100 additional employees to handle the influx, Weegar said.

"Every aircraft has to be parked by a parking team and then another team will get the passengers off and get them through their ground transportation," Weegar said. "And then another team of employees will take care of the aircraft, whether it's fuel or if they need an [auxiliary power unit] start or any other services for the airplane. And then there's the catering people if you've ordered catering. So, each airplane could be touched multiple times before it's gone again."

Weegar also estimated the airport will go through over 500,000 gallons of fuel over the course of the week.

A 'sporting event of the world'

Augusta Regional Airport becomes a private jet parking lot packed with planes during Master Week
Thousands of people come out to watch the Masters.Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Weegar has become fond of calling the Masters a "sporting event of the world."

In 25 years at Augusta Regional, Weegar has seen a wide array of powerful people from across the globe come through the airport for the annual tournament: celebrities, CEOs, presidents and vice presidents, oil sheiks, and, of course, the players themselves.


Of all of the celebrities that come through Augusta Regional, meeting Arnold Palmer stands out to Weegar the most. Weegar said Palmer was sitting on the steps of his plane when Weegar approached and asked to shake his hand, to which Palmer happily agreed.

"Just a nice, nice guy," Weegar said.

Weegar said many of the players arrive via NetJets, a sort of private jet "timeshare" service that lists Dustin Johnson among its ambassadors. According to Elite Traveler, "entry-level" private jet service for NetJets' smallest plane starts at $6,500 per hour.

Over the course of the week, aircrafts that cost well into the millions will make their way onto the runway: Gulfstream G650s (starting around $50 million), Falcons, Boeing business jets.

The abundance of planes at this small airport leads to a slight logistical problem: finding a place to park them all.


Once Augusta Regional's main ramp fills up, the airport will close the shortest of their two runways and park the jets all along it. Sometimes they even have to find parking at neighboring airports.

With this comes another challenge: bringing all incoming and outgoing flights through the remaining runway.

"A single runway operational for rivals and departures takes a lot of planning and a lot of professional experience to pull it off," Weegar said, adding: "It's like a calculus test, I think."

It's an exhausting week, but each year, Augusta Regional meets the demand.

"Thousands of thousands of people come for seven, eight days, and we are here and we are ready to take it on and take it on successfully," Weegar said.