City of Mobile pledges $30M to big airport switch—what this means for Mobile

Airport
Flying out of downtown Mobile just got one step closer to being a reality. Photo via Mobile Downtown Airport

Have you heard of Mobile’s big plan to move the airport from West Mobile to downtown? Well, on Tuesday, that plan was further solidified when Mobile City Council agreed to use $30M worth of General Funds to support the now $252M project.

Let’s unpack some details and look at some crucial questions about the airport.

Mobile Downtown Airport, an overview of the plan

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Map of the downtown airport. Photo via Mobile Downtown Airport

I’m sure any of us from Mobile has heard the chatter about moving the airport to downtown. The plan is to create a 5-terminal international airport to compete with similar airports in Pensacola and Biloxi. Commercial flights from Mobile Regional Airport will be relocated to the downtown airport instead. Once it opens in 2024, this will be the first time Mobile has operated an international airport.

But doesn’t Mobile already have an airport? Let’s take a look at 5 important questions and answers.

1. Why the move downtown?

Rsa Tower, Downtown Mobile.
RSA Tower, downtown Mobile. Photo by Liv George for The Bama Buzz.

In short, it makes more sense for the airport to be downtown. From a tourism standpoint, the downtown airport is just off the interstate, putting it close to cruise terminals and the hopeful site of the Amtrak route across the Gulf Coast.

“Regaining Mobile’s share of the regional market improves levels of passenger service, drives a more competitive pricing structure, increases convenience and lowers fares. Approximately 55% of the Mobile market is lost to both Pensacola and New Orleans airports and the feasibility study indicated Mobile could recapture this market by moving its location to the downtown area, where much infrastructure and service is already in place.”

From the “Frequently Asked Questions” section of the Mobile Downtown Airport website.

An international airport is key for business, too. Mobile does a lot of international business out of the Port of Mobile, and adding an international airport further serves the business interests of the city.

2. What about the Mobile Regional Airport?

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Road signs have already gone up! Photo via Mobile Downtown Airport

The city does already have an airport, Mobile Regional Airport, so what’s going to happen to it? As of right now, there are no solid plans for the Mobile Regional Airport, although a few options are being considered.

One of those options is a switcharoo (this is a technical aviation term, didn’t you know) in which the business/non-commercial business that typically flies into the Brookley Aeroplex will be moved west, to the Mobile Regional Airport.

3. How will the airport’s relocation impact traffic?

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Planes, trains, and automobiles. How will Mobile handle the impact on traffic? Photo via Mobile Downtown Airport

Unfortunately, it’s a bit too soon to determine the exact traffic influx the downtown Airport will cause. The Mobile Airport Authority did, however, conduct a traffic study. to make the entrance and exit of the airport flow with current traffic as best as possible.

With the project still being 3 years out from completion, traffic considerations are still being evaluated and assessed at various steps in the development, per the Mobile Airport Authority.

4. What routes can I fly from the new downtown airport?

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Okay so there’s an airport, where can I go from it? Photo via Mobile Airport Authority

The Mobile Airport Authority compiled the following locations as top priorities for the destinations from the Mobile downtown airport:

Domestic destinations:

  • New York
  • Chicago
  • Washington/Baltimore
  • Dallas
  • Los Angeles
  • Denver
  • Miami/Ft. Lauderdale
  • Las Vegas
  • Atlanta
  • Houston

International Destinations:

  • Philippines
  • Toronto
  • London
  • Frankfurt
  • Cancun
  • Montreal
  • Vancouver
  • Calgary
  • Saigon
  • Montego Bay, Jamaica

5. What are the next steps in development?

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The downtown airport is set to open 2024. Photo via Mobile Airport Authority

Currently, there is still environmental work to be assessed before construction can begin. Assuming all goes well, construction will begin next year and be completed in 2024.

Plus, not all funding has been secured. The Mobile Airport Authority plans on petitioning Mobile County to match the $30M pledge from the City. This brings the plan one step closer to the proposed $403M necessary for the full plan.

For more details check out the Mobile Downtown Airport website.

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Liv George
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