UNION COUNTY, N.C. — Union County’s growth in the last 10 years is being felt in other sectors of the economy outside home buying and building.
New census data shows roughly 37,000 more people live in the county now compared to 10 years ago.
The Charlotte-Monroe Executive Airport is seeing and experiencing a growth spurt as well, according to manager Peter Cevallos.
What You Need To Know
Airport operations are up on average hundreds a month, compared to six years ago
The airport manager says the county's growth is reflected in the airport
Business at the airport has grown from a handful of planes to more than 30 in the last several years
“To the southwest are large areas right here where we have already had some verbal commitments, and we’re negotiating for the leasing of this land, so, big private hangars can be built with private funds right here,” Cevallos said, while examining a map of the airport’s planned future growth.
Cevallos is currently in the process of updating the airport’s master plan, a document which spells out the growth of the airport in the next several decades. The plan depicts the airport’s future growth in many stages through 2042, according to the airport’s website.
“One of the first major projects that I’m going to tackle, if you will, after I finish my master plan update is to rehab the runway,” Cevallos added.
The master plan, if followed, would add two service maintenance hangars, private hangars and small private plane storage areas to the airport in multiple phases, according to the current map provided by Cevallos.
The plan is currently available for public review and comment on the city’s website.
The manager, in his seventh year at the airport, said he’s seeing Union County’s growth reflected in demand at the airport. He said as more and more people learn the airport is here, they’re taking flying lessons, private flights and even going through U.S. Customs in Monroe instead of Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.
“It actually reflects what’s happening in the community, specifically in Union County and Monroe. The city of Charlotte is growing by leaps and bounds, and as is Union County and Monroe,” Cevallos added.
During a walk of the property, Cevallos said parking spots are filling and a waiting list is growing.
“Of the 72 spots that we have out here, 66 of them are typed up in leases,” Cevallos explained, adding the additional six spots are left open for visiting aircraft.
His fuel and towing operations are busier too. Six years ago, when he began tracking the information manually, Cevallos said the airport averaged 350 “touches” a month. Touches are when his airport staff are helping aircraft refuel or towing them. Now, Cevallos’ computer program, which tracks the data, said it’s averaging more than 700.
The increased touches are good for Cevallos and the airport. Since it operates as an enterprise business for the city, the money Cevallos’ operations make get funneled right back into the airfield.
“The airport growth in part is reflecting not just because of what people come in here but the businesses,” Cevallos said.
He gave credit to airport businesses like Aerowood Aviation for helping grow the area. The business, which handles maintenance, lessons and charters, has grown from about four teaching planes to more than 30, according to Cevallos.
He said it helps in two ways. One, it increases the airport’s day-to-day operations and brings in more people. Secondly, it creates a pipeline of potential professional pilots, who could one day help commercial airliners fill much-needed spots.
“Our older pilots are aging out, and we’re in a shortfall right now with the number of pilots, and we’re scrambling,” Cevallos said about the commercial industry.
Meaning, this airport is a symbol of growth in Union County with more help to the skies on the way.