BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport is poised for an explosion of growth.

Airport authority board members have been discussing a master growth plan since 2019.

They officially approved that plan during Wednesday’s board meeting.

“We’ve submitted it to the FDOT and the FAA,” Board Chairman Glen McDonald said. “They’ve approved it and sent it back to us for final approval and submittal today. What that does is makes us eligible for FAA grants to support our new construction projects.”

McDonald said this expansion and construction are needed now more than ever.

The airport has seen record-breaking growth of passengers this past year.

“If you’ve been here on Saturday, you see that it’s kind of close and packed,” McDonald said. “We’re gonna build out a new passenger holding area over what is now current baggage claim.”

Other projects include a north concourse buildout, TSA checkpoint relocation, north terminal expansion and a new baggage claim area.

“There’s a lot of new things going on at the airport, and we’ve been thinking and talking about it for a long time and working together to determine in what order we do those things,” McDonald said. “It’s all about passenger activity levels. As they grow, we need to grow.”

The projects are projected to be almost $3 million.

McDonald said they hope to receive grants from the FAA. They also have funding from the CARES Act and Rescue Plan Act.

“I’m excited about approving the master plan,” he said. “We have been working and discussing and debating on that and getting public input for a long time, and until we approve and submit the master plan, we’re not eligible for federal funding for our construction. Approving that today let us go forward with some of our needed construction projects.”

McDonald said each of the nine projects will vary in construction time, but all are expected to be completed within the next three years.