GULF SHORES, Ala. (AP) — Connecting flights by commercial airlines could be using Jack Edwards Airport in coastal Baldwin County within five years if airport and city officials approve a private engineering firm's recommendations.
The airport, which has two runways at a site east of Alabama 59, now provides service only for private air travel. Consultants with Barge Waggoner Sumner and Cannon, Inc., proposed nearly $38 million in construction projects to be completed in three stages during the next 20 years to provide commercial service to and from major cities like Atlanta.
The study, reported Monday by the Press-Register, was commissioned by Gulf Shores.
"The entire south Baldwin County coastal community is in a phenomenal growth period," Airport Authority Manager Russ Kilgore said. "It's going to continue to grow and the airport needs to grow with it."
The first stage of the plan includes a 32,000-square-foot commuter terminal with waiting areas as well as ticketing and baggage services accommodating commercial flights.
Kilgore said airport officials have not met with any commercial airlines yet.
"We haven't knocked on any doors and will not do that until we further study the economics and demographics of the area," he said. "It stands to reason, though, that with the millions of visitors we have every year, commercial services are going to look to expand to this area."
According to the report, about 80,000 takeoffs and landings were fielded at the airport last year — a figure that could double by 2025.
The nearly $38 million in proposed construction would be paid largely by federal and private funds, with only about $2.5 million to come from local and state funds, according to the report.