The Mobile Downtown Airport is getting more than $1 million to repair the area where airplanes are parked, boarded or refueled — space that dates all the way back to when Brookley was first used as an Air Force base.
U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne announced the $1,080,000 U.S. Department of Transportation Grant in a statement released Friday morning.
“I am thrilled to announce this grant of over $1 million to the Mobile Downtown Airport,” Byrne wrote. “As Southwest Alabama continues to grow, the downtown airport will become increasingly important to our economic development efforts. I appreciate what Mayor Stimpson and the Mobile Airport Authority set out to do when deciding to revitalize the Mobile Downtown Airport, and I applaud all of their hard work on this important project.”
Mobile Airport Authority President Chris Curry said the grant begins the organization’s commitment to repairing and replacing much of the aging apron, runways and taxiways.
“That’s part of our overall plan to improve infrastructure,” he said.
The grant will provide funding for the design of the apron this year, with construction beginning next year, per Federal Aviation Administration rule. “You do the design one year and the construction the next,” according to Curry.
In other airport news, Frontier is pulling its seasonal direct flight from Mobile to Chicago, beginning Nov. 13 — a move that has been expected for sometime now.
However, Curry said he believes the airline, which is the only one currently operating out of the downtown airport, should bring the flight back in April when the weather in the Windy City is more temperate.
“When Frontier came into Mobile, both the Denver and Chicago flights were seasonal,” he said. “They made Denver year-round because the response was higher, and Denver is their primary hub. You can still fly Frontier to Chicago from Denver if you desire.”
Curry said the Chicago flights typically left the downtown airport at 80-percent of their capacity, while flights to Denver took off 90-percent full on average. Those “load factor” numbers are both good, especially considering the A320 aircraft Frontier uses holds 186 passengers, he added.
“We’re hopeful they bring back the Chicago flight and an additional destination,” Curry said. “I think it’s a good possibility.”
Seasonal flights for Frontier are nothing new. The airline traditionally puts assets where they will be most popular during different seasons.
For instance, Frontier is temporarily stopping its direct flight from Huntsville to Denver in November, but leaving its Orlando flight. The same for Nashville, Curry said. The airline is also moving many flights to Phoenix during cooler months, he said.
This story was updated to correct an error about the Frontier flights leaving the Huntsville airport.
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