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Metro Detroit airports prepare for influx of travelers ahead of NFL Draft

Metro Detroit airports prepare for arrival of NFL fans for draft
Metro Detroit airports prepare for arrival of NFL fans for draft 02:16

(CBS DETROIT) – Hundreds of thousands of people are making their way to Detroit for the 2024 NFL Draft. Some will be coming by private plane.

Local airports have been preparing for the draft for months, coordinating private flights and planning with the Federal Aviation Administration. Officials said the Detroit Metro Airport is expecting a 5% to 25% increase in traffic.

"What that looks like is anywhere from one to 400 extra operations for the NFL Draft," said Michael Fawaz, the director of Willow Run Airport.


Willow Run is about 15 minutes from the metro airport. It hasn't seen an uptick in private flight traffic yet, but that could change quickly.

"They can file their flight plan last minute, they can do it today or tomorrow."

Fawaz said the area is expecting the brunt of the plane traffic on Thursday and Friday. And they don't just have to coordinate landings and take-offs. They also have to have places to park all of the planes.

 "We will close one of our runways if needed," said Fawaz. 

However, he said it's nothing they haven't faced before. 

"When Ohio State and Michigan play, it gets very busy at Willow Run. We are only 15 minutes from the Big House, so we're used to that type of traffic."

Detroit Metro is also prepared for commercial travelers, who will have an easier time getting to the draft activities with the new express bus service. 

"The Detroit Airport Express will take folks right from the airport to downtown Detroit," said Zachary Kolodin, Michigan's chief infrastructure officer.

He said the city and the Michigan Department of Transportation have done a lot of work to prepare for the draft, including improving highway access and the people mover.

"Work that the city, and in some cases the state, have planned for many years. But we were able to accelerate it in anticipation of the draft."

Kolodin said the draft isn't just an event for athletes and sports fans. through it, there's been added greenery, signage, storefront upgrades, and artwork that benefit all Michiganders.

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