Local News

Johnston airport spreads its wings with new, larger terminal

Posted October 30, 2014 4:00 p.m. EDT
Updated October 30, 2014 4:08 p.m. EDT

— With the snip of a ribbon, officials celebrated the opening Thursday of a $4 million terminal at the Johnston County Airport in Smithfield.

The building boasts 8,600 square feet, meeting spaces with digital capability, a pilots’ lounge and a splash of local flavor. The christening also heralded a new name – Johnston Regional Airport – that reflects the facility’s growth.

“Our influence in the area is more regional than just the county, so we wanted to spread our wings a little bit,” said Ray Blackmon, director of the airport that serves private and corporate flyers.

While Raleigh-Durham International Airport plays a huge role in the region, smaller airports such as Johnston Regional are critical to local businesses.

“Our company flies out of here probably once or twice a month,” said Ray Hales, president of The Hales Group, a major freight hauling business in Clayton.

He says Johnston Regional gives his company an easy way to cover a lot of territory.

“I can call on two or three customers in a day's time and be back in the office,” he said.

Hales said corporations are noticing the airport improvements.

“We've had corporations that have flown in here and really liked that we've got a nice facility, and it promotes them wanting to come back,” he said.

There is no commercial passenger service at Johnston Regional and no current plans to add it. But officials say the airport makeover could help Johnston County land plenty of business in the future.