Airport Terminal Expansion Nearing Completion
Millions of Dollars Being Spent on Improvements Around Busy Airport
By Keith Burton - GCN 10/10/07
Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport officials and tenants are excited over a new cargo facility and the completion of the construction on the terminal expansion that should be finished by month's end.
Anyone flying in and out of the Gulfport/-Biloxi International Airport will note that construction on the new and expanded terminal is rapidly nearing completion. The airport overall has been undergoing a $50 million expansion that actually began prior to Hurricane Katrina, but was substantially setback by the hurricane when the existing work on the terminal was badly damaged.
In addition to the new terminal, there is a $10 million, 46,000-square foot cargo building that will offer 20,000 square feet of chilled space when it is opened in February.
The terminal expansion doubles the size of the busy airport, which is expected to be able to handle 2.4 million passengers a year.
Overall, the property around the airport is seeing more than $300 million in investments that include a new tower, two hotels, a business center, a new car rental center and several restaurants. There are also new cargo and general aviation ramps under construction.
Later this year, a $15 million parking garage will be built to double the parking space. Even with all of the construction, including some additional parking built since Katrina, finding a parking place at the airport often means driving around a bit and walking a healthy distance to the terminal. The new garage, when finished, should help reduce the parking problem for a while.
The airport offers 10 nonstop destinations on seven commercial airlines. Officials hope to add more carriers in the near future.
The $50 million terminal expansion will bring the following services to Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport:
• Seven jet gates and two ground-loading gates, with an eighth jet gate to be added in 2008.
• Larger baggage area with two new large baggage conveyors with space for a third, this is in addition to the original two conveyors.
• Expanded passenger screening area with multiple security lanes, as well as a more spacious terminal entry l lobby.
• New rental car reservation counters.
• New airline ticket counters with space for two more airlines.
• USO lounge for servicemen and women.
• VIP lounge to be constructed in 2008.
• New airside/landside gift shop, bookstore and four restaurant concessions.
• Two business centers with free Wi-Fi and work stations.
• Three covered vehicle lanes in front of the terminal.
• Three covered commercial ground-transportation lanes.
Even with all of the improvements at the airport, officials are already anticipating further expansions of the airport that will be needed for future traffic.
The airport was first constructed in 1942 to train flight crews for WWII; it was transferred to the city of Gulfport in 1949. Biloxi and Gulfport formed the regional authority in 1977.