UPDATE: New Airport On Time and On Budget

Monday was Walton County Day and the Northwest Florida Panama City International Airport hosted the Walton Area Chamber of Commerce board meeting under a tent with the new terminal as the backdrop.  Of course, one of the cool things about events like this is that we usually get a pretty good update on how the construction is coming along at the new airport site.

Continue reading “UPDATE: New Airport On Time and On Budget”

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 newpfn@gmail.com.

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?

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.

Terminal:
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.

Source: newpcairport.com

Okaloosa's Northwest Florida Regional Airport Not Closing

Apparently Okaloosa’s Northwest Florida Regional Airport is not closing, and Okaloosa Airport officials are getting quite snappy about it.  I’ve heard this very rumor for quite some time and have actually participated in some of the speculation.

Some believe that it all started January of 2008 with the Panama City Beach’s Chamber let out an email blast to members that stated that Eglin Air Force Base would shut down commercial airport operations in order to preserve Eglin’s incoming Joint Strike Fighter mission.  I personally remember the email and thought it quite a bold move, but was unable to substantiate the statement.

Other locals to Panama City and Panama City Beach have been known to question whether the Okaloosa airport would stay open for much longer, including well-known attorney, William Harrison and former Panama City Beach Mayor and local news show host Lee Sullivan.  Recently, Sullivan had Panama City Bay County International Airport Director Randy Curtis on his show and made the comment that in the future Okaloosa would have airspace issues with Eglin that may lead to complications in commercial operations.  Harrison’s opinion is that it is of the best interest of the Florida Panhandle that Eglin’s military and the Joint Strike Fighter mission is of the highest priority.

Currently the Okaloosa County Commission is investigating the possibility of legal action against the Panama City Bay County International Airport and have also supported seeking the resignation of Jerry Ray from Coastal Vision 3000.  Ray is one of the VP’s of St. Joe and a prominent supporter of the New Panama City Airport.

Okaloosa’s Northwest Florida Regional Airport Director Greg Donovan said that they will be launching an advertising campaign to counter the rumors.  Recently the Air Force renewed their lease with Northwest Florida Regional through 2032.

Airport Authority Board Meeting Agenda

PANAMA CITY-BAY COUNTY AIRPORT AND INDUSTRIAL DISTRICT

PANAMA CITY-BAY COUNTY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

             BOARD MEETING

DATE:            November 20, 2008

TIME:            10:00 a.m.

PLACE:            Board Room, Second Floor, Terminal Building

AGENDA

 

  1. Board Chairman – Call Meeting to Order
    1. Invocation
    2. Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag
    3. Roll Call
  2. Approval of Minutes:
    1. October 28, 2008 – Board Meeting Minutes
  3. Airport Director’s Reports
    1. Activity Report
    2. Financial Report
    3. Airport Relocation Project Report
  4. Business Items:
    1. Banner Tow Agreement – East Moriches
    2. Banner Tow Agreement – Meek’s Aerial Advertising
    3. Updated Retirement Services Agreement
    4. SheltAir Sublease – Flight Deck Aviation
    5. Purchase of Capital Vision Software Application
    6. Award Bid for Utilities Package
    7. Temporary Power to Construction Site
  5. Other Business:
    1. 2009 Board Meeting Schedule
  6. Public Comments:
  7. Adjournment and Meeting Schedule:
    1. Board Meeting December 19, 2008 at 10:00 a.m. 

Foreign Trade Zone Status at New Airport

Panama City, FL (Nov. 10, 2008) – The Panama City – Bay County International Airport Authority has directed Airport Executive Director Randy Curtis to evaluate the options for establishing a Foreign trade zone at the new international airport currently under construction in West Bay.

“The airport board believes it is important to establish a Foreign Trade Zone at the new airport in order to maximize its economic development potential,” said Airport Authority chairman Joe Tannehill.  “Having a foreign trade status at the new airport will put us in another category altogether and be an important differentiator in competing for new jobs and business expansions.”

The action taken by the Airport Authority is in consideration of extensive statistics documenting the importance of foreign trade to the Florida economy. It noted that establishing a Foreign Trade Zone at the new Panama City – Bay County airport would make the new facility one of 10 airports in Florida.

Airport board members agreed that Foreign Trade Zone in West Bay would benefit the community and the region by facilitating and expediting international trade, providing special customs procedures as a public service to help firms conduct business, encouraging and facilitating exports, attracting offshore activity, assisting state/local economic development efforts and creating employment opportunities.

The action taken directs Airport Executive Director Randy Curtis to begin immediately preliminary work to create a Foreign Trade Zone at the new international airport in WestBay.

Specifically, the board asked Curtis to develop options for the airport board to consider concerning the size and boundaries of the trade zone, including a discussion of the costs and benefits associated with each option presented.  Further, the board asked Curtis to investigate public/private partnerships to stimulate intermodal infrastructure development.

Florida Trade Facts:

The U.S. is the world’s largest trading nation, exporting nearly $1.3 trillion in goods and services and more than one-fifth of the growth in U.S. GDP depends on exports. (1)

Manufacturing exports support an estimated 5.2 million jobs, including 1 in 5 manufacturing jobs, and jobs supported by goods exports pay 13-18% higher than the average wage. (2)

More than 30,000 companies export from Florida locations, including more than 28,000 small and medium-sized businesses. (3)

Florida’s export shipments of merchandise in 2007 totaled $45 billion, up 80 percent from $25 billion in 2003, ranking sixth among the states in terms of total exports in 2007, and exporting to 222 foreign destinations. (4)

1 – Office of the United States Trade Representative, 2005 data (latest available).
2 – Office of the United States Trade Representative, 2002 data (latest available).
3-  International Trade Administration and Bureau of the Census, Foreign Trade Division (2006 data).
4 – Revised Origin of Movement State Export Series, Bureau of the Census, Foreign Trade Division (2007 data).

Contact:
The Panama City Bay County International Airport
Randy Curtis, Executive Director, 850-763-6751 ext. 203

Airport Authority Prevails on Permit Challenge

News Release

PANAMA CITY – BAY COUNTY AIRPORT AND INDUSTRIAL DISTRICT
PREVAILS ON CHALLENGE TO ITS FEDERAL PERMIT

CONSTRUCTION CONTINUES ON NEW INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Panama City, Florida – (October 30, 2008) – The Panama City – Bay County International Airport and Industrial District (Airport Authority) received a Final Order in U.S. District Court in the Florida Clean Water Network, National Resource Defense Council and Defenders of Wildlife’s challenge to environmental permits issued on the Airport Authority’s project for a new international airport in West Bay.

In February, 2008 the Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit challenging the legality of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit and attempted to obtain a temporary restraining order to suspend the permit and stop the construction of the Northwest Florida’s new airport. The Court denied the Plaintiffs’ Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order

In his ruling issued today, Judge Timothy J. Corrigan of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division  found that “the record supports that the Corps considered the concerns raised by those who opposed the project and the comments of those who favored it, it considered the FAA’s position, and it considered the goal of the Authority before determining that the project purpose should appropriately include flexibility for growth opportunities sufficient that international charter operations could use the airport.”

The Court further found that “the Corps considered the record before it, including the EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) prepared by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and the West Bay Vision Plan (which, as noted above, envisions a fifty year regional development plan anchored by the relocated Airport), and determined that compatibility with these local and regional comprehensive planning efforts was a necessary and not incidental component of the project…..[T]he County looked to use the airport project as a centerpiece to stimulate economic development in the region at the only site that could accommodate growth and FAA safety and military airspace concerns while avoiding hurricane storm surges…”

“I am thrilled with the court’s decision.  This has been a long fought battle and I am pleased that the court has vindicated our decision and the decision of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” said Joseph Tannehill, Chairman of the Airport Authority. “As the federal court noted, this airport project is the centerpiece to stimulate economic development. There’s no better time in the history of Bay County, considering these economic times, than for us to have this project at this stage at this time.”

Judge Corrigan’s opinion dismissed with prejudice the Plaintiffs’ claims pertaining to the Clean Water Act Section 404 permit which the Plaintiffs brought against the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the United States Army Corp of Engineers under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA).

“This Airport and the West Bay Sector Plan represent unique opportunities for Northwest Florida,” said Bill Cramer, Vice Chairman of the Airport Authority. “For once economic development can be advanced in unison with environmental protection. We appreciate the court’s judgment on our project and we will continue to proceed toward our projected opening of May 2010.”

Contact:
The Panama City Bay County International Airport
Randy Curtis, Executive Director, 850-763-6751

Airport Intentions State 10,000 feet

Airport Authority Approves Preliminary Work on 10,000 foot Commercial Runway

Construction of New Airport Months Ahead of Schedule

The Panama City – Bay County International Airport Authority announced its intentions this week to construct a 10,000-foot main runway at the new airport in West Bay, subject to obtaining necessary permits and approvals. The Authority previously authorized the design of the runway extension which takes this runway from 8,400 feet to 10,000 feet and today approved a thicker runway and centerline lighting to accommodate a 10,000 foot runway.

Earlier, the Airport Authority had approved an 8,400-foot concrete runway with the option to extend it to 10,000 feet, if funding became available. The Florida Legislature, during its 2008 legislative session, awarded the airport an additional $4.5 million in funding to lengthen the runway to 10,000 feet.

The Airport Authority has begun the permitting process for the runway extension.  The change in runway length is not expected to impact the construction schedule.  The Airport Authority currently expects to open the new airport on Memorial Day 2010, with the 10,000 foot runway completed.

“We appreciate the tremendous support we have received from the State of Florida for this new airport,” said Airport Authority Chairman Joe Tannehill.  “The State knows how important this new facility is to the future of air service and economic development in Northwest Florida.  It is an investment in the future of the Panhandle – and the future of Florida. This new runway will be the only 10,000 foot commercial runway in the Northwest Florida region.”

“From the beginning, our goal has been to build a new airport capable of serving the transportation and economic development needs of our region for decades to come,” said Tannehill. “The longer runway will put us in the strongest possible position to compete for better air service and large aviation-dependent economic development projects.”

“Our focus now must turn to marketing our new facility to commercial airlines, transportation and logistics businesses and other aviation and defense companies we have targeted as potential tenants of the new airport,” said Tannehill. “We are committed to improving the regions air service and expanding the economic base of Northwest Florida.”

Construction of the $318 million state-of-the-art airport began in January 2008 and is now nearly three months ahead of schedule. The runway has been graded and paving is scheduled to begin in early October, four months ahead of schedule.

The two-mile long main airport entry road has been completed, 80 percent of the storm sewer pipes are in place and the parking lot’s curbing and lime-rock base will be completed by the end of September.

“Construction of the new airport is going very well,” said Randy Curtis, the airport’s executive director. “It is truly amazing to see 10 years of planning coming to life.”

New Airport is on Schedule – Construction Update

The construction of the new airport is on schedule with paving of the runway to begin in 12 weeks. With over 40 million cubic yards of material moved since the beginning, still much work is to be done – obviously.

I’m not telling you anymore, you’ll just have to watch the video after the break.

Continue reading “New Airport is on Schedule – Construction Update”