CAE executive director eyes more improvements, development.

Since taking over as executive director of Columbia Metropolitan Airport in 2018, Michael Gula has been thinking of ways to improve and develop the facility.

Before he was promoted to executive director, Gula spent four years as director of operations, planning and facilities for CAE. He believes that improvements which make travel easier and more efficient for passengers will increase the number of visitors passing through the airport.

In September, the airport announced two improvement projects intended to make it more efficient for passengers to check in and to quickly find an open space in the parking garage.

CAE is in the process of upgrading its baggage check-in system to a fully automated, inline handling system. It also is installing a system on the second level of the parking garage that identifies open spaces. Eventually, Gula said the airport could expand the parking notification system to other floors of the parking deck.

"My vision for the airport right now is to just continue to grow with the momentum that we're currently seeing not only the airport, but the Midlands region as a whole," he said.

CAE passenger traffic in 2018 was the highest it's been in a decade, increasing by 11% from 2017. Based on 2019 numbers through the third quarter, the airport is on pace to see a 19% increase in passenger traffic in 2019.

Growth in passenger traffic is what airlines look at when considering lowering fares and adding flights, Gula said. The more people who use the airport, the more flight options and the lower the fares, he said.

"That's really the message that we're trying to get out there into the community," he said. "People love to use this airport because it is so convenient and easy to get through. But definitely the fares play a huge role on whether or not they decide to fly out of here or go to Charlotte."

Gula said Charlotte Douglas International Airport is where most of CAE's "leakage" goes, but he said Columbia's fares are more competitive now. He said airports cannot negotiate fares, as airlines have their own pricing schemes.

The travel needs of the U.S. Army into and out of Fort Jackson accounts for about 20% of the traffic and a consistent weekly flow of passengers at the airport. Business travel accounts for 70% of passengers, while leisure travelers make up another 10%.

While focused on increasing the number of passengers, Gula also is working on growing development on the airport property. About 250 to 300 of the...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT