GULF SHORES – A $500,000 federal grant will help pay some of the cost to expand air services at the Gulf Shores International Airport, city officials said Thursday, Aug. 4
The Gulf Shores Airport Authority will receive the grant from the Small Community Air Service Development Program of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The grant will help pay for a marketing study and plan to support new commercial air service and destinations to the Alabama Gulf Coast.
“In so many of our nation’s smaller communities, local air service is crucial to residents’ lives and livelihoods,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “We're proud to award these grants to help strengthen local air service in 25 smaller communities and help Americans across the country get to where they need to go more efficiently and affordably.”
Scott Fuller, Airport Authority manager said the Gulf Shores program was one of 25 to be awarded an air-service grant across the country.
The Gulf Shores Airport Authority is working to build a new terminal in preparation for the addition of commercial airline service to the airport.
Fuller said Friday that the interim terminal is scheduled to open by March 1. Officials said earlier this year that they hoped to have airline service started by the fall of 2022. Fuller said later, however, that nationwide airline setbacks, including staffing shortages, have delayed that opening until 2023.
“We feel good about a spring start up, industry conditions notwithstanding,” Fuller said Friday.
When completed, the permanent terminal will include six ticket counters, a TSA area, a holding area and two gates. The initial terminal will have one security station with space for a second site when it is needed.
The Gulf Shores City Council voted Monday, July 11 to also approve improvements using funds from an $804,775 Federal Aviation Administration grant. The Airport Authority and state will each pay $44,709 to bring the total for the project to $894,194, according to city reports.
That money will be used for taxiway lighting and environmental studies for the new terminal.
Airport Authority Chairman Vic Roberts thanked the efforts of Senators Richard Shelby, Tommy Tuberville, and Congressman Jerry Carl for their support and efforts in gaining the grant.
The Department of Transportation grant will be added to the locally generated air service fund managed by Gateway Initiative of $250,000 to provide $750,000 available for new startups and new destinations. Current contributors to the air service fund are the cities of Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Foley, the Baldwin Economic Development Alliance and Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism.