Video Preview of New Airport

Having been under construction for two and a half years, the new airport in Panama City is finally about to open.  Dubbed Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, the new facility boasts the title of being the first commercial airport build in the U.S. since 9/11.  Not only is the new airport expected to change the dynamics of travel to our area, many are expecting increased growth and prosperity that would have been difficult to realize without this new addition to our area.

The grand opening ceremonies are this weekend with the airport being open to the public on Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm.  But, if you can’t wait, here is a video of the new airport.

Name the New Panama City Airport – Submit Here

Submit your names to be included in tomorrow’s regularly schedule Airport Authority Board Meeting.  The Airport Authority is considering new names and is asking for public input.

Up for debate for quite some time has been a new name for the new Panama City – Bay County International Airport, which is being relocated to an under construction site north of West Bay in Panama City Beach.  The new airport has been under construction for over a year now and is set to open May 18, 2010.

We’ve had discussions here and many in the community have recognized that essential to the success of the new airport is a new name that has a regional (or greater) connotation.  The potential of this airport can certainly capture a regional traveler.  Shoot, if we’d drive over to Ft. Walton’s Northwest Florida Regional Airport to save a few hundred buckaroos, certainly our friends to the west (and east for that matter) would do the same.

In order for this airport to best serve our needs into the future, visitors that fly into Panama City need to fly into an airport that encompasses all of Northwest Florida.  Talking to Mel Ponder from Coastal Vision 3000 – or THE Beach – not long ago, he was telling me that international travelers that fly into Orlando rarely stay in Orlando the whole time they are here.  Furthermore, they rarely travel here for less than 14 days.  International travelers will venture as far as up to 5 hours away from Orlando in their travels.

Our new airport will need to be a regional destination that will bring visitors within hours of some of the worlds most beautiful vacation spots from Apalachicola to Pensacola and beyond.

Submit your name suggestions below and email them to

Here are some of the names that have been submitted on here in the past:

Northwest Florida International

Emerald Coast International

Gulf Coast International

Any others?

PC Airport Construction Update – PHOTOS

The new Panama City Airport is less than 12 months from completion and the on site action is really accelerating.  With new construction milestones being made on a weekly basis, new things seem to be growing out of the ground all the time.

The main 8,400 foot runway is 100% complete with final approval still pending from the FAA on the 10,000 foot extension.  I have no idea what the hold up is, only that I’ve been told that it is expected soon (they’ve been saying that for months!).  Once the approval comes in, however, construction of the runway extension will take less than 60 days.  They are also seeding and mulching the main access road for grass.   Sand is being installed on the bottom of Pond C.

The terminal construction is making great progress with the metal framing of the exterior walls in Area A on the 1st and 2nd floor helping to define the overall shape of the building.  The roof decking in Area A, B and a portion of C are almost complete.  The excavation for the pedestrian bridge construction has begun and the fire sprinkler installation in Area A (baggage claim area) has begun as well.

The existing terminal is just over 55,000 square feet.  The new terminal more than doubles the size at 120,000 square feet with ample room for ticket counters, baggage claim, TSA offices, and offices for the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau and a business center hosted by the Bay County Chamber of Commerce.

The air traffic control tower is growing with the structure over 100 feet tall.  The final tower will rise 15 stories into the sky.

7 Ways for PCB to Get Ready for the New Airport


Brand New Name:
This is a big one.  What’s in a name?  Everything.  A name identifies what something is and can convey the magnitude of its existence.  Panama City-Bay County International Airport just isn’t going to cut it for a 10,000 foot 4,000 acre international airport capable of receiving the largest of passenger jets from anywhere in the world.  We need a name that conveys a much larger representation.  Suggestions here on Pcbdaily have included Sunshine State International Airport, Emerald Coast International Airport, Florida International Airport, Gulf of Mexico International Airport, and Southern U.S. Intercontinental Airport.  Several readers in a previous post emphasized their favor towards Emerald Coast International Airport.  This name will literally be in front of millions, and the first impression that is imminent needs to be great.

Better Sense of Arrival on Highway 79:
What is the first thing fliers will see when they are driving down to our beautiful snow-white sand beaches?  A newly widened road with power lines and no landscaping; snore.  We need to excite them with a fantastic sense of arrival, a road adorned with huge, gorgeous palm trees, lush green grass, sidewalks, curbs, street lights, and underground utilities.  Put simply, it needs to look just like Beckrich , ‘er’uh’ R. Jackson Blvd.  This is another one of those “first-impression” things that we can’t afford to screw up.  I know that “officials” will say that there is a reason that we are doing the CRA in the order that it’s being done, but we need to find a way to change it up.  Highway 79 needs to be top priority, then next Front Beach Road needs to be addressed.

Improve Front Beach Road First:
It was remarked in another post’s comments that more emphasis needs to be placed on Front Beach Road’s improvements than on the improvements of the north/south corridors.  This is so true, tourists spend most of their time driving on Back Beach Road and Front Beach Road and very little time on the roads taking them in between.  Why did we spend money improving Churchwell, then Beckrich first?  Now we’re moving onto south and north Thomas Drive?  I know these areas needed improvements, badly, but we need to focus on what is more responsible regarding servicing our number one customers, tourists.  They don’t care what Beckrich looks like, they don’t EVER drive on Churchwell , but they see (and remark to me all the time, frankly) the ugly power lines and crave sidewalks to accent their stay with a little recreation.  This needs to be addressed NOW.

We’ve Got to Reintroduce Ourselves to the World:
Known as the redneck riviera and the spring break capital of the world (I don’t even want to dignify those titles with capital letters) we’ve got to totally re-introduce ourselves to the world.  Comments that came out of recent focus group sessions that took place in Atlanta discussing Panama City Beach were very revealing.  100% of the people in attendance had traveled to Panama City Beach, yet we were given the least favorable rating when compared to neighboring destinations.  Quoting a commenter, Bryan Durta, explaining remarks of some of the focus group attendees, “Negative comments included tacky, kinda like being at a bar with a bunch of drunks, dirty, rednecky, party city, too honky-tonky, and lots of cigarette butts on the beach.”  We need people to not only think of us as a classy destination that they’d want to come back to in a heart beat, but a classy destination that they’d recommend to their friends just as quick.  How do we do this?  We do this through innovative PR and Marketing efforts, much of which is much under way – bravo Jennifer Barbee Inc. and the CVB Marketing Team.

We Need a Year-round Destination
Every year businesses across the beach close down to save on expenses because the cost of operating exceeds the money they make during the winter season.  In Panama City Beach, we need to create more things for winter travelers to do so as to attract some of that shoulder-season money.  Right now, there are quite a few events that bolster weekend traffic during a time in which long weekends are king, but we need more.  And, they have to be good, real good.  We’re doing great, but we need to do better.  Events like the Panama City Beach Seafood Music and Wine Festival and Pier Park’s New Year’s Eve Beach Ball Drop have been immensely successful in the past, and will continue to bring people to our beaches year after year.  In addition, we need to better market to our winter-traveling retired friends.  We need to be sure that we have promotional materials created speaking directly to them and ensure they know we exist.

Transportation Sector:
In order for us to prepare for all the new people that will be traveling to our little slice of paradise, we need to centralize our transit system and educate our “transportation representatives”, aka cab-drivers.  We need a standardized licensing and education system to be sure that the first people that our tourists spend time with are not only knowledgeable, but that they are courteous as well.  In addition, in order to ensure a pleasurable experience, we need to be sure that the cab cars are of consistent quality and that the first impression of our new visitors is great enough to keep them coming back for years to come.

Standardized Hospitality Training
Here we go on the training thing again, but it is just so important.  Who is the first person you see when you check into your resort on vacation?  The person working the front desk.  So, if that person is grouchy, or doesn’t speak English or is just plain rude – how will that set the stage for your vacation?  I wouldn’t feel happy, and neither would many tourists.  The Resort Collection of Panama City Beach’s Edgewater Beach Resort teamed up with Gulf Coast Community College last fall to create a 20 hour training course that provides the hospitality and tourism businesses in our community with a consistent industry wide training program to increase customer service standards and the customer’s experience while visiting our destination.  This not only ensures that the people meeting our visitors are trained in how to interact with them, but that they are interacting in a quality that is consistent all down the beach.

New Airport Aerial Pictures and Update

Contract 1: Heavy Civil and Airfield Lighting
Approximately 80% of the contract work is complete with only 55.8% of the contract time used.

Underground utilities are being installed in the General Aviation area.
Fine grading along the runway is continuing.
Seeding is ongoing in the North section of the site.
Installation of the centerline lighting cans is approximately 75% complete.

Approximately 115 pieces of heavy equipment are in operation at any one time with approximately 160 personnel on site for the heavy civil (contract 1) and utilities (contract 3) contracts.

Contract 2: Terminal Building, ATCT and Support Buildings
Approximately 18% of contract work is complete with 25% of contract time utilized.

All shoring has been removed from Area A.
Installation of re-steel on Level 2 of Area B is complete.
Beginning to prep the slab on grade between areas B and C.

Air Traffic Control Tower:
Pile cap complete using approximately 350 cubic yards of concrete.
Beginning to form up the 1st level.

Air Maintenance Facility:
Backfilling of maintenance pit is complete. Preparing for slab on grade.

Air Cargo Facility:
Installation of pre-engineered metal building is ongoing.

Public Safety Building:
Completed concrete pour of perimeter footings/elevator footing.

Rental Car Facility:
Completing installation of underground utilites.

The average manpower on site for Contract 2 per day is 105 people based on a five day work week. Manpower on Saturdays is approximately 31 people.

Contract 3: Utility Contract
Approximately 18% of contract work is complete with 15% of contract time utilized.

Main Access Road:
3W2” Power Distribution Duct Bank: 53% complete.
Street light duct work: 65% complete.

Joyner Road:
24” water main: 90% complete.

GA Access Road:
30” water main: 45% complete.

Lift Station:
30% complete.

CR-388 & Main Entrance:
8” Directional Drill is complete.


Project Update – New Panama City Airport

Contract 1: Heavy Civil and Airfield Lighting

On the Heavy Civil and Airfield Lighting contract, the construction team has completed 75% of the contract work and used only 51% of the contract time.  The following milestones have been reached:

  • 85% of the 15” concrete paving lanes have been placed on 8,400 linear feet of Runway 16-34.
  • Runway 16-34 Touch Down Zone and Centerline light cans are being set.
  • On Taxiway D and main terminal apron, all lime rock base and the first lift of asphalt paving is in place.

Production volumes in place are as follows:

  • 62,354 tons of asphalt pavement in place (both airside and landside).
  • 151,307 square yards of landside lime rock base and 130,885 square yards of flightline P-211 lime rock base have been installed in accordance with the project specifications.
  • 47,000 cubic yards of the 67,200 cubic yards of 15” concrete runway pavement is in place.
  • 98% of the original RCP storm sewer installations are complete (33,086 linear feet).
  • 66,258 linear feet of perforated under-drain has been installed along the taxiways and runways (42% of total).Storm sewer installation within the General Aviation Area is 30% complete.
  • 5.7 million cubic yards of earth has been moved (99% of total).
  • Mass grading within Pond C now 98% complete.
  • 105 pieces of heavy equipment in operation at any one time with approximately 123 personnel on site.

Contract 2:  Terminal Building, ATCT and Support Buildings

On the Terminal Building, ATCT and Support Buildings contract, the construction team has completed 14% of contract work and utilized 19% of the contract time.  Specific work includes the following:

  • Terminal: Shoring for Level 2 areas B and C continues in the terminal building.
  • Terminal: Plumbing rough-in continues.
  • Air Traffic Control Tower: Excavation around auger cast piles is complete and ready for installation of pile cap.
  • Air Cargo Facility: Completed slab pour at truck well/forming retaining walls.
  • Public Safety Building: Rebar at perimeter footings nearly complete.

Contract 3:  Utility Contract

On the Utility Contract, the construction team has completed 4% of contract work and utilized 6% of the contract time.  On the Main Access Road:

  • 12” water main:  38% complete
  • 8” force main:  38% complete
  • 3W2” Power Distribution Duct Bank: 26% complete
  • Street light duct work: 36% complete


Construction Update – New Panama City Bay County International Airport

Panama City Airport Aerial

Huge progress has been made since construction began at the beginning of the year at the new Panama City Bay County International Airport site north of up Highway 79 north of Highway 388 in Bay County.

The entire site consists of 4,000 acres that can be used for the airport and all future expansions with a total 1,300 acres permitted for construction right now. Phase I will include a primary runway of 8,400 feet and a secondary cross-wind runway of 5,000 feet. The primary runway will run almost due north at 340 degrees with the secondary at around 50 degrees.

Continue reading “Construction Update – New Panama City Bay County International Airport”