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AVL hosts two-chamber Business After Hours, celebrates opening of a new gate area, security checkpoint, restaurant and bar

“We are constantly working to get new destinations because we know that’s what you want: You want good, low fares and you want non-stop flights,” said David Hillier, Chair of the Asheville Regional Airport Authority Board, from the podium at Thursday’s Business After Hours event hosted by the airport.

The event, attended by more than 300 Asheville Area and Henderson County Chamber members and elected officials, was held in celebration of the opening of a new gate area, security checkpoint, and restaurant and bar. The airport also kicked off a celebration of its 50th year of service in Western North Carolina.

Hillier continued his address to area travelers: “So now here comes the commercial. I want everybody to think ' —repeat:' That’s your first stop when you’re looking for air travel out of the Asheville Regional Airport.” He also emphasized that strong use of air service locally helps lead to more options for air travelers. “You can help bring us more new non-stop destinations. Try - it would be great for all of us.”

Community leaders and members of the Airport Authority Board joined Hillier on stage for a ribbon-cutting and unveiling of a plaque dedicating the new space, all 21,000 square feet, to the travelers of Western North Carolina.

Of course, it wasn’t all pomp and circumstance. Thanks to the incredible food provided by the Blue Ridge Tavern and Chef Anthony Cerrato of Fiore’s Ristorante Toscana in Asheville, consulting chef of the airport’s new restaurant, guests of the event enjoyed custom creations like prosciutto-wrapped figs stuffed with bleu cheese, chicken pot pie, tiramisu, and other delicious treats. Highland Gaelic Ale and French Broad Ale were supplied by Skyland Distributing and Empire Distributing, respectively, and Biltmore Wines provided the wine selection.

The celebration also came at an appropriate time, as Asheville Regional Airport saw a record number of passengers in 2010—up 27% compared to the previous year.