At the moment, flying into the city of Mobile, Alabama, in the United States will see passengers arriving at Mobile Regional Airport. However, this will soon change with the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) April 6th approval to relocate commercial passenger traffic to Mobile Downtown Airport – the airport used by Airbus’ operations in the city.
FAA approval to shift commercial traffic
The FAA has now approved Mobile Airport Authority’s (MAA) Master Plan to relocate commercial air passenger service from Mobile Regional Airport (MOB) to the Mobile Downtown Airport (BFM). “This accomplishment is the culmination of the three years of hard work that will cover the next twenty years of development,” a Mobile Airport Authority statement reads.
This approval comes three years after a feasibility study was completed in 2018. This FAA-funded study determined that “it was both feasible and critical for the Mobile Airport Authority to move commercial air passenger service from the Mobile Regional Airport in west Mobile to the Mobile Downtown Airport.” In fact, findings showed about 55% of the Mobile market is lost to neighboring airports- market share that the city could recapture by changing airports.
“The input from community leaders, business owners, and local residents was invaluable to our team…Their recommendations helped our team develop the best possible plan to provide premium air service from the Mobile Downtown Airport.” – Chris Curry, Mobile Airport Authority President
With the move given the green light, Mobile Downtown Airport is set to get a brand new international terminal with a footprint of 130,000 square feet. While this may be smaller than the current terminal at the Mobile Regional Airport, the Mobile Airport Authority says it will be more efficient.
In addition to the new terminal, the $403 million project will also see a parking garage, surface parking, and apron expansion. Federal Inspection Services operations will be accommodated as well, as per the requirements to be considered an international terminal.
“This is an exciting next step on Mobile’s path to progress. Having our airport downtown makes more sense for our residents and will be key in our continued efforts to make Mobile a hub for tourism,” – Levon C. Manzie, Mobile City Council President and District 2 Councilor.
The new terminal is expected to open at the Mobile Downtown Airport in early 2024.
Sharing a runway with Airbus
Of course, the most notable activity at Mobile Downtown Airport, in the context of commercial aviation, is Airbus’ assembly of single-aisle jets. In fact, BFM is the home to Airbus’ Final Assembly Line and Airbus Engineering, with activities taking place at Brookley Aeroplex.
“We have had an exceptionally positive experience in Mobile over the years—the people, business community, local government and community have all been welcoming and supportive of our activities here.” – Airbus Alabama
“The Mobile A320 assembly line is part of Airbus’s worldwide production network, and operates exactly the same way our assembly lines in other parts of the world do. Fully-equipped sections of aircraft are delivered to the Mobile facility via the port of Mobile, where they are assembled into the final aircraft, equipped and painted and then delivered to the customer.”
Currently, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and United Airlines serve the Mobile Regional Airport and provide direct service to four major hubs: Atlanta, Dallas, Charlotte, and Houston. While these are mainly smaller regional jets such as the ERJ145 and CRJ900, it would be exciting to one day see Mobile-built Airbus jets operating commercial service to and from the very same location they were assembled.
Have you ever flown to Mobile? Share your experience with us in the comments.