Mobile to shift commercial airline flights to more convenient downtown airport

Aug 5, 2020

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Flyers to Mobile, Alabama, will be landing at a more conveniently located airport in a few years after officials there announced plans to relocate commercial passenger flights to the Mobile Downtown Airport.

Following two years of study, the Mobile Airport Authority has unveiled a master plan that calls for all commercial air service to move to the centrally-located Mobile Downtown (BFM) from Mobile Regional (MOB) airport in the next few years. A new airline terminal at the Downtown facility would feature eight gates and be located adjacent to the Interstate 10 highway that runs through the city.

The move would make the airport more convenient to flyers, encouraging more airlines to add service thus lowering airfares, the airport authority says.

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The preferred location of a new passenger terminal at Mobile Downtown Airport. (Image courtesy of the Mobile Airport Authority)
The preferred location of a new passenger terminal at Mobile Downtown Airport. (Image courtesy of the Mobile Airport Authority)

 

American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines serve Mobile Regional. Frontier Airlines served Mobile Downtown, where it used a temporary interim terminal from May 2019 through this May, according to Cirium schedules.

Mobile Regional has long lacked flights by any discount airlines. Only major carriers have served the airport except for a few brief exceptions since 2004, Cirium shows.

“To revitalize Mobile’s commercial passenger service and recapture its market of travelers… moving service from the poorly located Mobile Regional Airport to the Mobile Downtown Airport [is] critical,” the airport authority said in a video on the master plan.

Related: JetBlue’s first Airbus A220 nears completion in Alabama

The Airbus A220 and A320 final assemble lines in Mobile, Alabama. (Photo courtesy of Airbus)
The Airbus A220 and A320 final assemble lines in Mobile, Alabama. (Photo courtesy of Airbus)

 

According to the airport, Mobile loses about 55% of its potential flyers to the larger and more conveniently located New Orleans (MSY) and Pensacola (PNS) airports. The assessment was conducted prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mobile Regional served 650,375 passengers in 2019, according to U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) data via Cirium. For comparison, New Orleans served 13.8 million passengers and Pensacola 2.2 million passengers.

The airport authority touts the convenience of the proposed passenger terminal as its big selling point. The facility would be located about a 10 minute drive from downtown Mobile whereas the existing terminal is at least a 30 minute drive, according to Google Maps.

Related: Airbus rolls out first A220 assembled in Mobile

One benefactor from the terminal is Airbus. The European planemaker’s U.S. A220 and A320 final assembly lines are located at Mobile Downtown, about a five minute drive from the proposed terminal.

Airbus uses its Mobile facility to assemble jets for American Airlines, Delta, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Spirit Airlines and others.

Mobile does not have an opening date for the planned commercial air service move to Mobile Downtown. The timeline depends on planning, design and construction work for the terminal, which also includes parking and roadway improvements.

The new terminal would cost roughly $160 million, according to AL.com.

Related: Fast-growing Frontier Airlines takes delivery of 100th Airbus

Featured image courtesy of the Mobile Airport Authority.

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