Uptown Greenville, NC


Airport Unveils $7.9 Million Expansion

By Kathryn Kennedy
The Daily Reflector

February 25, 2011 - Pitt-Greenville Airport officials formally unveiled a federal stimulus-funded $7.9 million expansion and renovation Thursday night.

Customers have been riding escalators, passing through jet bridges, navigating security and strolling through the new, two-story terminal for several weeks. Nearly 100 elected officials, aviation industry employees and others gathered for a ribbon-cutting Thursday.

Airport Executive Director Jerry Vickers took some time to thank engineers, architects, contractors, utilities workers and his staff for their efforts toward build the “new, improved, expanded and more customer-friendly Pitt-Greenville Airport.” It has taken two years of planning and 18 months of construction, Vickers said.

Greenville resident and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Steve Greytak remembers the airport's humble beginnings. His squadron founded the airport in 1943, and he remained there through July 1944.

“It sure has changed,” he said Thursday, smiling broadly. Greytak presented Vickers with a plaque bearing the squadron's logo and several aging photographs of planes and the tower from that era.

Airport Authority Chairman Wayne Holloman spoke of the impact transportation developments from the plank road to the railroad to the U.S. 264 Bypass have had on the area.

“Transportation is an important infrastructure in developing and growing a community,” he said. “I would like to think that what we have here is a major contribution to the infrastructure of our community.”

Richard Walls, director of aviation for the N.C. Department of Transportation, said Thursday the community has “a lot to be proud of.” Pitt-Greenville Airport passenger rates continue to climb in a time of disappearing community airports and declining traffic, he said.

“That's a really, really big deal in aviation right now,” he said. “The planes, the people, the commerce. They're already here.”

Walls said state data indicates the airport contributes $51 million and brings 45,000 visitors to Pitt County annually, and provides about 450 jobs.

“In a global economy, airports are the gateway to a community,” he said. “Terminals are the front door.”

Vickers hopes the expansion not only will improve travel on U.S. Airways flights, but will aid in attracting a second airline.

“Tell people about (the improvements) and old-fashioned brag,” Holloman instructed the audience. “We're no longer just a little country airport here.”

Contact Kathryn Kennedy at kkennedy@reflector.com or (252) 329-9566.