Mobile unveils plan to move all commercial flights to downtown Brookley Aeroplex
The Mobile Airport Authority on Tuesday unveiled a plan that would move all commercial air traffic to the Brookley Aeroplex near downtown.
The city’s current aviation hub, the Mobile Regional Airport, is not located near an interstate and is a 30 minute drive west of the city center.
The Brookley location is located just off the interstate and only 10 minutes south of downtown Mobile.
The moving of all commercial traffic to Brookley will require significant construction and remodeling of the current facilities. The investment necessary is estimated to total over $400 million for a process that will take around five years.
Moving commercial service to the downtown location has been a priority for Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson and Mobile Airport Authority President Chris Curry for more than two years and is seen by the region’s leaders as key for growth in the area.
A feasibility study was conducted in 2018, and the master plan unveiled Tuesday looks 20 years into the future.
With respect to finances, Curry remarked on Tuesday that 90% of the funding for the project would come from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), with the State of Alabama being on the hook for a 5% match worth around $20 million.
The full and complete explanation for how the project will be funded has not yet been presented to the public.
Yellowhammer News compared the drive time from each airport to Bienville Square in the heart of downtown Mobile.
The Mobile Airport Authority hired LeighFisher Aviation Consultants for help with the master plan.
The consultants produced data that estimated 55% of the Mobile market is taken away by Pensacola and New Orleans. They argue that improving Mobile’s aviation options will increase competition and thus bring down fares.
The Brookley location currently houses a daily flight to Orlando from low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines, which officials say is evidence of feasibility for increased commercial traffic at the location. According to executives, 60% of Frontier’s passengers came from nearby Baldwin County.
The City of Mobile and the Airport Authority recently teamed to build a two-gate terminal for $8 million that opened Brookley to a small amount of commercial traffic from low-cost carriers in early 2019.
The key investment necessary to make possible the moving of all commercial traffic to Brookley is a new $160 million terminal that would have eight gates and five-story parking garage.
Though that would be smaller than the current Mobile Airport, Curry assured the public that the downtown facility would be “more efficient with the ability to expand,” according to Alabama Media Group.
— Laura Barczewski (@LcBarczewski) August 4, 2020
According to MyNBC15, Curry said on Tuesday, “None of the airlines that I have met with in the last three years are interested in adding new destinations or serving the Mobile Regional Airport because the access to the Mobile Regional Airport is not easy. They’re all excited about moving to the downtown airport.”