PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport celebrated on Wednesday, as airport officials cut the ribbon on the brand new terminal expansion.
The multi-million dollar project has been under construction for nearly six months.
“It’s more than we thought it would be,” said Del Lee, former chairman of the airport board and current board member. “it’s bigger, it’s got plenty of seats.”
It has around 250 more seats, giving the airport room for the growth it’s experiencing.
“It’s just desperately needed,” Lee said. “You got too many flights coming in for the amount of space and gates that we have and this will be expanding on that.”
Bay County Tourist Development Council President, Dan Rowe, said it’s a good sign for the area.
“That demonstrates that people love to come to Panama City Beach and to Northwest Florida,” Rowe said.
ECP Executive Director, Parker McClellan said the expanded terminal is a modular building, meaning it was built offsite and installed in sections. He said that option saved money and allows it to be movable in the future.
“We can move this to a different area, it can be something different,” McClellan said. “Obviously that takes money and it would be a program but it’s something we can do.”
In the meantime, it’ll be used as the new home for gates six and seven, operated by American Airlines. It should be ready for passengers to use by Tuesday, August 4th.
“I’m looking forward to getting on a plane and flying out of here,” said Rowe.
McClellan said that’s the goal, whether people are flying out of or into ECP.
“That’s what we want everybody to do, is come out and get on an airplane,” McClellan said.
He added that he is excited to watch the airport grow even more as the area recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.