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Southron

Huge new airport proposed for Panama City

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The St. Joe Company is pushing for a $330 million new airport, larger in area than New York's LaGuardia and able to handle the giant Airbus 380, 20 miles from Panama City. Proponents say the airport could turn the "Redneck Riviera" into an international tourist destination along the lines of Orlando or Miami. According to the article, the airport is part of a growing debate over whether to keep the Panhandle relatively quiet or to development like central and south Florida.

Thoughts about this airport proposal and the growth that it could facilitate?

New York Times: In a Quiet Part of Florida, a Bid to Bring in the Crowds

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NYC's LaGuardia is tiny. why not just build a new terminal and lengthen the runway on the existing airport?

I can't see someone going to the Panhandle just b/c of a new airport, unless they bring in lower fares.

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We've discussed this airport many times in the Tally threads. The article states the new airport will be bigger than La Guardia and Newark combined They cannot expand the current airport's runways in Panama City because of the bay it sits next to and b/c of environmental reasons. This airport by moving it 20 miles to the west of PC will serve not only Bay County (PC) but also South Walton County (Seaside, Watercolor) and probably Okaloosa County (Destin/FWB.)

I'm all for proper development of the Panhandle, just not in the style of Central and South FL. Hopefully we've learned some things since they started developing these areas.

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there's no way that the Panhandle nor it's tourism could ever support an airport the size of Newark and LaGuardia combined. in land area, maybe, but any entity can dedicate land for an airport. but not in flights, gates, carriers served, nor with the $$$ needed to build such facilities. that's a completely different story altogether. Those 2 NY-NJ airports combined handle nearly 60 million passengers per year. Maybe in the year 2150 they'll have that many flights served there.

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there's no way that the Panhandle nor it's tourism could ever support an airport the size of Newark and LaGuardia combined. in land area, maybe, but any entity can dedicate land for an airport. but not in flights, gates, carriers served, nor with the $$$ needed to build such facilities. that's a completely different story altogether. Those 2 NY-NJ airports combined handle nearly 60 million passengers per year. Maybe in the year 2150 they'll have that many flights served there.

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Uh.....that's EXACTLY what they meant....bigger than those two airports in LAND SIZE, which isn't saying that much since both are pretty compact, definitely not in passenger loads or number of airlines. I think they are going to go after the cargo trade.

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that reminds me of that proposal from a private developer to build a giant cargo airport near Lakeland a couple of years ago; western Polk.

maybe air cargo to complement area seaports around Pensacola...

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$330 million seems like peanuts for an airport of that scale. are extensive amenities proposed? is the initial cost estimate a 'phase-one' type of deal?

edit - never mind; i see that it's geared toward cargo. that explains that.

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Get ready b/c here it comes. I believe they have one more hurdle, a lawsuit from environmental groups and then that's it.

New Bay County Airport

I'm glad to read they already have a plan for the current airport site. That really is some nice land on the bay.

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The final issue delaying ground-breaking of the new airport are amendments to contracts to sell the existing airport. One-third of the funding comes from the FAA, one-third from the state of Florida, and one-third from the Airport Authority. The final third comes from the sale of the airport for $99M to a Pennsylvania company. The last permit, the Development Order from the County, has been issued and the appeal period has expired.

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Um jaxboro may I ask what is your source/connection to the new PC/Bay County airport? I have family living over in Bay and have been following the new airport saga for years. A lot of what you mention, I've never heard, but that's not to say it isn't true.

SW I don't believe will look at PC initially, the passenger loads just aren't even close and even w/a new facility, they won't approach what SW needs to turn a profit. The vast majority of tourist to this area drive. It will take several years to change (if they can) from where and how their tourist base arrives.

Lufthansa? That one I've never heard. Not sure what their connection to Bay would be? I could see them going to G'ville-S'burg or B'ham before PC b/c of the car manufacturing connections.

St. Joe (the primary developer in the area) is modeling NWFL after Ft. Myers and the success they've had w/SW International Airport, definitely not after the South Beach model. They've released studies comparing the two in the past.

Pier Park in PCB, one of the biggest new retail developments in the area is actually opening in the Spring of '08, two or more years before the opening of the new airport.

The new airport is definitely going to be a cargo hub.

It's an exciting and new time in Bay County, but I'm not sure if things will change overnight in Bay as you've suggested.

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Thanks for the info. and clarification jaxboro. It's all very interesting. I could definitely see USAirways moving from VPS to PFN when the new airport is built. PNS already has USAirways and then those in VPS currently using USAirways would have less than an hour in either direction to continue using it. That would be a smart move on USAirways part IMHO.

I think if and when SWA moves into NWFL, they'll choose PNS first. PNS's passenger loads are the highest in NWFL and w/in an hour's drive of the airport, there is a population of about 1 million b/c of Mobile to the west. You don't nearly get that amount of folks w/in an hour of PFN's new airport. Also PNS has had good success w/AirTran. In NWFL, AirTran was first at VPS, then moved to MOB and finally to PNS where they've been for about 5 years.

While I think the new PFN airport will be a boom to the economy especially if they get the cargo part right, I don't think in the beginning it will be much more than a regional commercial facility servicing Bay/Walton/Okaloosa/Gulf and the interior counties to the north of Bay.

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I think if and when SWA moves into NWFL, they'll choose PNS first. PNS's passenger loads are the highest in NWFL

The current PC Airport does not have high passenger traffic due to the size of the terminal and overall size of the airport period. Estimates show within 5 years of opening, more than 1 million people will travel thru the airport, and these are the lowest end estimates, the highest is about 3 million.

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Just a thought I've had but never voiced about the new & improved PFN - Since it is surrounded by numerous military installations and constant military flights in the region, could possible restrictions on the # of flights allowed in the airspace or the timing of those flights discourage potential airlines looking to move here? Surely someone thought far enough ahead on this issue but I've never seen it mentioned anywhere. Just curious - :dontknow:

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^ Thanks for the reply jaxboro.

If you can say, what is your connection to the airline industry? You seem to know a lot of what is going on with this project.

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I believe from reading some of your other post JB, aren't you in the Navy stationed in Jax or is it AF? And don't you or your family own a condo in PCB?

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^ Thanks for the replies guys! I thought I had been keeping up with this project but obviously not well enough as I didn't know half of what Jaxboro posted.

On another note, it's a small world JB, we've also got a place on Thomas Drive just West of your family. Are they in the private, non-rental tower right next to the state park? That's an awesome location!

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Correct on all of them. They own beside Saint Andrew's State Park, on the easternmost tip of the beach.

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^Very interesting news. I hope it becomes a reality. While I'm sure you don't wanna reveal too much about your source, does he/she work in the airline industry?

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Just got some incredible information! Southwest Airlines is likely to announce commitment to this airport sometime next year. This isn't a 100% possibility but the person I emailed said there is a good chance. Reason for not choosing Pensacola is that it isn't too far off from New Orleans and they don't want to have them too close to each other. Fort Walton is still a possibility, however, the airport is not fully up to par with their expectations, but the biggest is the fact US Airways is already located there. They want a location where they can get as much gate space as possible, leaving KPFNs new location as a very viable location for expansion. Also, I was told flights would mostly come from Nashville, Birmingham, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood(Miami area), Louisville, Oklahoma City, Houston, and Dallas. This is a big sign that something big is brewing for the future of the Panhandle, not just with SWA, but the airport as a whole.

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Coming directly from a large horses mouth at SWA headquarters in Dallas.

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