City officials expect the Mobile Downtown Airport to become an international terminal when commercial service is eventually moved to the Brookley Aeroplex.
Mayor Sandy Stimpson mentioned the change during his virtual State of the City address from the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce building on Thursday.
“Perhaps the most transformative change to Mobile’s economic future comes as the result of the recently announced plan to move all commercial air service to the Mobile Downtown Airport at Brookley Field,” Stimpson said. “For the first time in our city’s history, Mobilians will soon enjoy the benefits of having an international airport in our city, yielding lower ticket fares, more low cost carrier options and additional direct flights to new cities.”
While some airports add the word “international” to their terminals without the capability for actual service, the proposed buildout for Mobile’s new commercial airport includes a federal inspection services station through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, according to Mobile Airport Authority President Chris Curry.
Having the building on site will give Mobile a leg up when it comes to commercial service, Curry said, but it will also make it easier to recruit possible business tenants to the aeroplex and could be used as another amenity to international businesses already at the industrial park.
As for lower future ticket prices, Curry said that will be possible due to the increased number of potential passengers achieved through moving the airport closer to the city’s central business district and potential customers in Baldwin County.
“In order for us to have a chance at reducing fares, we must have competition in the market,” Curry said. “The only way to have competition in the market is to move downtown.”
Curry said the airport also plans to lower fares by making the airport less expensive to use for carriers, which the board hopes, in turn, will be passed down to consumers.
As for low-cost carriers, Curry said the cheaper services would only ever consider bringing flights to Mobile if the airport was downtown. As for the immediate future holds for the downtown airport, which hasn’t had traditional commercial flights since Frontier Airlines left during the COVID-19 pandemic, Curry said he will begin meeting with carriers in a couple of weeks.
It’ll be the first face-to-face meetings he’s had with executives from national carriers since the pandemic started in late March.
When it comes to the cost of the new airport, Stimpson said the federal government would handle the majority of expenses.
“The federal government will cover the lion’s share of the cost of a new state of the art terminal and contribute to additional investments at the Downtown Airport,” he said. “This will further advance our future economic development opportunities at the Brookley Aeroplex.”
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