Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions about the Mobile Airport Authority Master Plan 2020
Q: Why is the Mobile Airport Authority moving commercial air passenger service from Mobile Regional Airport to Mobile Downtown Airport (BFM) at Brookley Aeroplex?
A: A feasibility study conducted by VHB in June 12, 2018, determined that it was both feasible and critical for the Mobile Airport Authority to consider moving commercial air passenger service from the Mobile Regional Airport in west Mobile to the Mobile Downtown Airport in order to re-capture passenger traffic which has been lost to Pensacola Regional. Regaining Mobile’s share of the regional market improves levels of passenger service, drives a more competitive pricing structure, increases convenience and lowers fares. Approximately 55% of the Mobile market is lost to both Pensacola and New Orleans airports, and the feasibility study indicated that Mobile could recapture this market by moving its location to the downtown area where much infrastructure and service is already in place.
Q: In view of the impacts of Covid-19 to the world economy, in general, and the aviation industry, specifically, does this impact your plans or timing to relocate to Mobile Downtown Airport (BFM)?
A: The impact of Covid-19 does not impact Mobile Airport Authority’s plans for the completion of the Master Plan or the relocation of commercial service to the Mobile Downtown Airport. While there is no doubt that the aviation industry has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the market will rebound and the reasoning in the 2018 feasibility study is sound. The loss of Mobile’s air passenger traffic to regional competitors has been happening over the course of years. This is actually a good time to be developing and implementing a plan to recapture that market when it returns.
Q: When would the commercial air service be moved?
A: The Mobile Airport Authority (MAA) is currently engaged with LeighFisher Aviation Consultants to create a Master Plan for establishing a new passenger terminal and the associated passenger traffic. The Airport Master Plan will consider alternatives and determine the preferred location and infrastructure needs required to accommodate the relocation of the passenger terminal. The alternatives will consider and weigh development opportunities against the backdrop of all the current and future operations planned at the Brookley Aeroplex. The study is ongoing with opportunities for public engagement and feedback so the MAA can arrive at the best possible plan. The study is expected to be complete by this summer. Once a Master Plan is in place, the MAA would then engage a design and construction team to implement the plan with the goal of having the new location operational by 2024. However, it is possible that individual air carriers could move sooner if space is available at the Temporary Terminal at the Mobile Downtown Airport.
Q: How will the move impact traffic?
A: Mobile Airport Authority consultants are conducting a traffic study as part of the Master Plan process in order to recommend the best entrance, exit and connectivity points to the new facility. This study will identify the method to best maximize the existing system of roadways and opportunities for future development, accommodating projected traffic flows, and clearly identify needed improvements to infrastructure. The study will also evaluate existing and future traffic flows within the boundaries of the Brookley Aeroplex and associated operations.
Q: Will there likely be an Amtrak station at the Mobile Downtown Airport?
A: Mobile Airport Authority (MAA) would welcome the consideration of any new Amtrak passenger service connecting to the new Mobile Downtown Airport and sees it as an important complement to its plans and an expansion of options for travelers. MAA plans to coordinate the potential location of an Amtrak station during the master planning process and also coordinate with the partners considering such service.
Q: What kind of increase do you expect in the number of planes that will fly into and out of the Brookley Aeroplex once the transfer is complete?
A: Pre-pandemic commercial operations at Mobile Regional Airport accounted for approximately 40 daily operations. This represents the combined arrivals and departures of commercial service flights for Mobile Regional on Delta, American and United Airlines. These flight operations will be moved to Mobile Downtown Airport. All other flight operations will remain at Mobile Regional. Mobile Downtown has recently served nearly 40,000 annual aircraft operations.
Q: What can the residents and businesses surrounding the Mobile Downtown Airport (BFM) expect in terms of noise increases?
A: While the Master Plan is designed to recapture the 55% of commercial air passenger travel that is currently lost to Pensacola and New Orleans airports and the forecast anticipates 624,000 enplaned passengers by 2040, the Plan is also designed to attract additional service. Aircraft engine technology continues to evolve, and new engine option (NEO) technologies have, and will continue to reduce airport operating noise levels. New or entrant carriers that may serve the Airport will do so utilizing aircraft designed to be quieter than the older carriers, especially, those that have historically served the Mobile market. The Master Plan will also take into account Federal Aviation Administration requirements that identify acceptable noise thresholds and establish maximum allowable noise levels. The Master Plan will prepare noise tracks based upon the forecast of operations.
Q: Are you planning to buy any adjacent properties or invoke eminent domain to expand the Brookley Aeroplex for the new downtown terminal and operations?
A: The Mobile Airport Authority has been open and transparent about the properties it has been interested in acquiring and has no plans at this time to expand outside the existing Brookley Aeroplex boundaries. However, the Authority will keep open all possible options to ensure it meets the needs of the entire regional community it serves. The Master Plan is currently underway and will direct its needs.