As we approach the end of 2021, we can look back on a very busy year for the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport. Despite the economic turmoil generated by the pandemic, your hometown airport has added new air service, further developed our air cargo capabilities, added new amenities, and invested millions of dollars in our facilities to better serve the community.
On November 17, 2021, Contour Airlines will begin new nonstop service to Nashville, TN. This is the second new airline and the fourth new nonstop destination introduced at GSP in 2021. At the same time, airlines have restored service to all routes that were temporarily suspended due to the pandemic. This brings nonstop service to a total of 22 destinations, the most ever in the airport’s history.
To accommodate returning passengers, we have re-opened restaurants and retail stores in the terminal building. The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck, Chick-fil-A, Dunkin Donuts, Baskin Robbins, Flatwood Grill, Hudson News, the Escape Lounge, and Palmetto Distillery are now open for business. In addition, we have introduced QDOBA Mexican Eats to the Upstate. This new restaurant concept provides another fresh and trendy dining option in our Grand Hall.
We also recently introduced two Escape Pods on each of our passenger concourses. Escape Pods are private workspaces offering Wi-Fi, video conferencing, and a quiet place for travelers to conduct business. In 2022, we hope to introduce another exciting shopping and dining concept in our Grand Hall. Stay tuned for that upcoming announcement!
While passenger numbers have been reduced during the pandemic, we are experiencing a significant increase in cargo activity, particularly to and from international destinations. In 2021, cargo activity at GSP has increased by 56%, setting a record for cargo tonnage at the airport. In fact, GSP now ranks #20 in the U.S. in terms of international freight and accounts for $4.37 billion in trade value. As supply chains continue to be stressed, airlines are finding GSP to be a convenient alternative to other airports in the U.S. We expect this increase in cargo activity to continue well into 2022.
To ensure that the airport remained positioned to serve the region’s needs once air travel demand returned, work has continued on several significant capital improvement projects. In August 2021, we completed work on improvements to the airport entrance road and construction of a new 1,500-space economy parking lot. A project to upgrade roadway directional signage is now underway and should be completed by the end of the year.
In November 2021, we will bring back shuttle service between the terminal and our economy parking lots. This service was suspended when passenger traffic declined in 2020.
In addition, we recently launched a new program to allow travelers to pre-book airport parking on the GSP website. This program provides customers with discounts on parking, rewards points, and is a way to guarantee a parking space in the lot of their choice. Travelers can also earn free parking at GSP after parking with us for just 10 days. More information on pre-booking and rewards can be found at gspairport.com/parking.
Maintaining a high level of safety, convenience, and efficiency has been and continues to be our priority. Our goal is to always provide a better airport experience for our customers. That is why we were honored to be recognized with the Airports Council International – Airport Health Accreditation. The Airport Health Accreditation is an international recognition earned by airports that demonstrate their commitment to providing the highest level of health, safety, and facility cleanliness to their customers, employees, and business partners. GSP is the first airport in South Carolina to receive this accreditation. This accreditation comes just a few months after GSP was recognized as the “Best Airport in North America” serving 2-5 million passengers annually.
Currently, GSP is handling approximately 80% of the passenger volume generated in 2019. As our journey to recovery continues, we see a very bright future for GSP and Upstate South Carolina travelers. Your hometown airport remains committed to providing the region with a safe, clean, efficient, and modern airport offering quality air service connections to the people and places that matter most to you. Thank you for supporting GSP and we hope to see you on your next flight!