The Mobile Airport Authority (MAA) took one more step toward moving all commercial air service downtown, with the selection of a program manager for the construction of a new terminal and execution of the airport master plan.
The board voted unanimously to choose Hoar Program Management (HPM) for the services from a list of five companies. That list of companies also included Volkert, but HPM was selected from a committee made up of MAA staff because of its familiarity with the airport and its work with the Airbus final assembly line at Brookley Aeroplex, MAA Capital Program Manager Russell Stallings said.
MAA President Chris Curry will now begin negotiations with HPM and the agency will hire a consultant to help it set appropriate fees for the work.
The MAA board also celebrated the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) approval of the airport’s master plan. The approval puts possible funding in place for the move, Curry said, as the FAA is expected to pick up as much as 90 percent of the tab for the new airport.
Board Chairman Elliot Maisel was hesitant to congratulate MAA on the milestone since the project was still not done.
“I won’t be willing to celebrate until the ribbon is cut,” he said.
However, Maisel said the speed by which the FAA approved the plan was encouraging.
“We’ve worked hard for a number of years,” he said. “We have a great plan and it accommodates the community plan.”
Specifically, Maisel credited MAA with finding a way to build the new terminal within the footprint of the Brookley Aeroplex to be the least disruptive as possible to established residents and businesses.
“No residents, no businesses, nothing in that regard are needed or required to move,” he said. “We did this in spite of the fact that it will cost the Mobile Airport Authority more money.”
The new downtown airport, because of its location, Maisel said, would lead to a better experience for commercial air customers in both Mobile and Baldwin counties.
“It will lead to more flights to more destinations, as well as bigger flights with lower fares,” he said. “It will enhance the lifestyle of those in our city. It’s going to be transformational.”
Curry said MAA is planning to open the new airport in 2024, following one year of environmental impact studies and two years of construction.
Like Maisel, Curry praised the geographical location of the new terminal, saying its proximity to Interstates 10 and 65, as well as its nearness to water and rail access, would have positive impacts on the industry and the city.
The location could also lead to expansion of the airport’s footprint to the east or along Michigan Avenue if the property becomes available.
“That property is not currently being used to its highest and best use,” Curry said. “We believe we could use it to its highest and best use.”
As for the current downtown terminal, Curry said it could be used as a low-cost carrier terminal or could be repurposed.
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