The first commercial flight out of Brookley Field is still expected to take off in 2019, the Mobile Airport Authority (MAA) president confirmed, with recent moves by the board bringing it closer to reality.
MAA President Chris Curry said the organization’s board of directors recently authorized construction activity related to the renovation of an existing building at Brookley to become a low-cost carrier terminal.
“When we started this, we hired KPS to move us through the process to select a construction manager,” he said. KPS Group is a Birmingham-based architectural firm.
Through a request for proposals or RFP process, the MAA selected Jesco Construction Co. as the construction manager and Michael Baker as the engineering firm for the terminal.
The existing building is a 50,000-square-foot former logistics building Airbus currently uses as a foreign trade zone, Curry said.
“We’re going to share it with Airbus for another six months,” he said. “Then we’ll take over the building.”
After renovations the building will become Terminal 1 and be used primarily for low-cost carriers until a master plan can be completed. The terminal is expected to open by April 30, 2019, and should cost $3.2 million to complete.
The expectation is that Via Airlines will be the terminal’s first commercial carrier, Curry said.
“Via has expressed a desire to move to the terminal as soon as it’s open,” he said. “We continue to talk to other carriers that don’t have service out of Mobile today.”
Via currently flies from Mobile Regional Airport to Orlando-Sanford four days per week on 50-seat Embraer jets.
The master plan is currently out for bid, Curry said.
“We expect to have a list of firms soon with a selection by the end of the year,” he said. “It’ll take a year to a year and a half to complete.”
Once low-cost carriers get settled at Brookley, Curry said, the MAA may build a second terminal for larger, more traditional carriers.
A June report found that a move of commercial flights to Brookley from Mobile Regional was feasible. Among other things, the Mobile Metropolitan Airport System Study found it would be more cost effective to move commercial service to the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley than to increase access through infrastructure at Bates Field in West Mobile.
The study also pointed to a number of other positive factors, including Brookley being “geographically better positioned to attract additional air service due to its proximity to downtown and ability to attract a larger share of the airport’s catchment area.”
The current airport only attracts about half of its catchment area, with passengers heading to airports in Pensacola and Gulfport. A move downtown could also open the airport closer to 138,000 potential customers.
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