Panama City Beach — The new airport under construction near West Bay is proceeding on schedule and should be completed by the May 2010 target date, airport officials said Friday.
Jeff Dealy of KBR, program manager for the relocation project, said he was more worried about getting the various agency occupants moved onto the complex in a timely fashion. “That would be our one hiccup,” Dealy said. He was referring to the different agencies slated to move into the new terminal structure, including the Transportation Security Adminstration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and various car rental firms and air carriers. “Everyone is up to date, but there is still some work to be done,” he said.
Space also is being allocated for a Bay County Chamber of Commerce Business Center and the Bay County Tourist Development Council, said Randy Curtis, executive director of the Panama City-Bay County International Airport, which is moving its operations to the new site.
The 8,400-foot runway is now 100-percent complete, and construction teams are awaiting FAA approval before extending it to 10,000 feet. Once approval is gained, the extension should take about two months to complete, officials said.
The 120,000-square-foot airport terminal, more than twice as large as the current structure in Panama City, is now about a third complete, Curtis said. The $62.8 million terminal complex always has been seen as the heart of the new $318 million airport taking shape near West Bay. The old terminal was only about 57,000 square feet, Curtis said. “They are getting pretty close, about two-thirds, to at least having everything under a roof,” he said.
Curtis said the new terminal complex will not only consist of the main terminal and a 147-foot air traffic control tower, but will host a public safety building, a maintenance building, a cargo building and a rental car area.
“We are all moving toward that May date,” Curtis said.
On its first floor, the main terminal will house a ticket area for airlines, space for five rental car agencies, a baggage claim area with three conveyer belts, a restaurant and a gift shop with newsstand, Curtis said. The upper level will consist of the passenger boarding area, airport administration offices, a second restaurant and a lounge area dedicated for the military.
One of the main goals of the new airport has been to “make it more efficient for processing both baggage and passengers,” Curtis said.
I wonder how the efforts are going with Southwest Airlines?