Every April, a slew of private aircraft descend on Augusta Regional Airport ahead of one of golf’s biggest and most iconic tournaments of the year—the Masters.
This year has been no different. Just 13 miles from the legendary Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta Regional Airport (KAGS) welcomed CEOs, celebrities, and thousands of fans ready to hit the fairway and catch a glimpse of golf’s greatest talent battling over the coveted green jacket.
According to statistics from AirNav.com, Augusta Regional Airport typically has 115 daily aircraft operations. During Masters’ Week, the airport expands its operations with airlines adding direct flights from New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Miami, and Austin.
Augusta Regional Airport assistant director of marketing and public relations Lauren Smith likens the traffic to the Superbowl—as some 1,500 to 1,600 private aircraft arrive over the course of the week. “On an average, we see 20,000–30,000 people a month, and we’ll see that just this week alone on the commercial side,” said Smith.
To keep pace with the influx of private jets, Augusta Regional Airport hires more than 100 new employees and brings in more than half a million gallons of fuel for the busy week.
But a trip to the Masters doesn’t come cheap. For transient heavy metal aircraft weighing over 50,000 pounds, ramp fees come in at a whopping $3,000 per day.
The hefty price tag is encouraging aviation companies like subscription-based Flexjet to make the experience as memorable as possible for its owners. During the event, Flexjet offered owners access to a private terminal and several luxurious amenities.
“The Masters has always been our busiest event-driven generator of travel, exceeding even the Super Bowl and the Kentucky Derby,” said D.J. Hanlon, Flexjet’s executive vice president of sales. “Many of our aircraft owners play golf and have a deep connection to the sport, and nothing else lends itself to both corporate entertaining and leisure travel. With Augusta a three-hour drive from the nearest major commercial airline hub, private jets are an efficient way to travel to the tournament. We will provide a deeply personalized experience reflecting southern hospitality, so they have seamless and luxurious travel from home to Augusta National and back again.”
Accommodating all the aircraft is another logistical challenge for the airport, as it has to close its shortest runway to use for additional parking.
“A single runway operational for arrivals and departures takes a lot of planning and a lot of professional experience to pull it off. It’s like a calculus test, I think,” said Tim Weegar, the airport’s director of operations.
Once the ramp is full, arriving aircraft will need to utilize other nearby airports such as Aiken Regional Airport (KAIK), in South Carolina, which drew in 624 flights during Masters’ Week in 2022. Mary Catherine Lawton, capital project sales tax manager for the city of Aiken, said the town sees an increase in hospitality and accommodations tax revenue collected in April—largely attributed to Masters’ traffic.
Daniel Field (KDNL), the closest airport to Augusta National Golf Club, also hosts plenty of smaller aircraft during the week. With its longest runway at just over 4,000 feet, it is able to accommodate pistons, turboprops, and some light jets.
Once the tournament ends and it’s time to depart, several bystanders enjoy the tradition of watching the aircraft take off from the parking lot across from Daniel Field.