The Mobile Airport Authority board voted Wednesday to change the name of the Downtown Mobile Airport to “Mobile International Airport” and offered a first look at conceptual renderings of what a new terminal could look like.
“In order to have the stature, you’ve got to take the posture,” board chair Elliot Maisel said of the name change.
The airport authority is in the process of moving commercial passenger service from Mobile Regional Airport in west Mobile to the Brookley Aeroplex. They say Brookley’s advantages — notably its proximity to downtown and its easy access to Interstate 10 — will put Mobile on a more competitive footing with other regional air travel options.
The swap requires a new passenger terminal, among other facilities. Backers have said from the beginning that they aimed for the new facility to meet the standards necessary for the “international” designation. Mobile Airport Authority President Chris Curry said changing the name now makes clear to the aviation industry that when the new facility opens in fall 2024, it will be ready for international business.
“The reason we feel it’s time to change the name, at least from an international standpoint, is because we really want to advertise to the international community where we’re going,” Curry said. “If you have a business that’s located outside the country and possibly looking to relocate to the Gulf Coast, if an international airport is important to them, our current name would not allow us to be part of that conversation. But from a planning standpoint, a strategic standpoint, if they understand that we’ll have a new international airport available in two years, we can easily be part of that planning process.”
The board approved the change with no opposition. Curry said that anyone concerned about losing Brookley Field’s history could take comfort in the fact that the airport’s three-letter designation would remain BFM, for Brookley Field Mobile.
He also said that the Mobile facility would have the capability to handle both international cargo and international passengers, which he said will distinguish it from other facilities in the region. That also will help capitalize on the airport’s proximity to the Port of Mobile, he said.
Curry and Maisel showed early renderings of the layout. While short on specific detail, they did show a general concept for a central terminal with two “wings” that could be added to provide more gates. Curry said the terminal likely would be built with five gates, not the dozen or so shown.
Maisel said the renderings were far from finalized. He described the images as depicting “a concept that our design team wants us to vet.”
The renderings showed a covered parking garage close to the terminal. Curry said plans called for an existing terminal for low-budget carriers to remain in operation, providing additional capacity to the main terminal’s gates.