Authority’s Plan sees downtown airport to better attract passengers
MOB is a large airport 13 miles from City
BFM is in downtown with water along one runway
Plans have been released to move commercial service from one existing airport to another owned by the same authority in the DOWNTOWN. There are issues demanding early resolution
The Mobile Airport Authority, a self-funded entity that receives no local tax dollars, owns and operates two airports—
- Mobile Regional Airport (MOB) is a public/military airport 13 miles west of Mobile,
- Mobile Downtown Airport (BFM) is a public use airport located three nautical miles south of the central business district of Mobile.
MOB has military roots, as it was home to an Air Force base Bates Field until 1959. Now its primary tenant is U.S. Coast Guard Aviation Training Center, Mobile, and an Army Reserve Battalion and helicopters. It has had commercial service since1931, but passenger demand has declined constantly and regional service from American and United.
BFM is primarily a GA airport. It has had service from Frontier until January 2020.
The Master Plan cites as the key to the “swap” in order to ”re-capture passenger traffic which has been lost to New Orleans and Pensacola Regional Airports. If there are any plans as to the future of MOB, they are not readily available. Further, it is possible that the Authority could prohibit carrier services at MOB. This is a reverse scenario of Dallas’ and Fort Worth’s closure of LOV and FTW to carrier service to open the jointly operated DFW. The consultants have done a yeoman job of cataloguing the existing BMF facilities and future needs.
The forecasts for BFM, as expected, see increases in airline services/flights. The Master Plan estimates that the noise impact of noise on the downtown airport will be minimal.
In frequently asked question section on the noise impact, the Plan responded:
Q16: What can the residents and businesses surrounding the airport expect in terms of noise increases?
A16: While the Master Plan is designed to recapture the 55% of commercial air passenger travel that is currently lost to Pensacola and New Orleans airports and the forecast anticipates 624,000 enplaned passengers by 2040, the Plan is also designed to attract additional service. Aircraft engine technology continues to evolve, and new engine option (NEO) technologies have reduced, and will continue to reduce, airport operating noise levels. New or entrant carriers that may serve the Airport will do so utilizing aircraft designed to be quieter than the older carriers, especially those that have historically served the Mobile market. The Master Plan also took into account FAA requirements that identify acceptable noise thresholds and establish maximum allowable noise levels. The Master Plan prepared noise tracks based upon the forecast of operations. Noise impacts at Mobile Downtown Airport have been evaluated at a preliminary level in the Master Plan’s environmental overview and are not expected to reach unacceptable highs of 65 DNL or higher for off-airport residential areas. (The noise metrics DNL 75, 70, and 65 are weighted decibel categories applied universally by government agencies such as the FAA.) It has been determined by FAA that areas exposed to the 65 DNL or higher are normally unacceptable for noise sensitive uses. The contours associated with these metrics reflect the cumulative exposure over an average day.
Q17: How will noise, air and water quality affect the local residential neighborhood?
A17: The Master Plan included an environmental overview to point out areas that should be looked at to minimize environmental impact. As required by the Federal Aviation Administration, a thorough environmental analysis will be prepared to address such issues in future phases of development beyond the Master Plan.
It appears as though BFM is surrounded by residential housing. Yes, the contours stay 100% within the airport boundary, but it is clear that community opposition is increasing at levels which heretofore have been found acceptable by the FAA. Congress has mandated that the existing criteria be reconsidered. Misophonia, literally “hatred of sound”, has become an increasingly pervasive phenomena and a clinically recognized psychiatric diagnosis.
An appropriate ordering of the next steps in this process might be to do a deep assessment of the noise impacts. To spend more money on the planning, while it is unclear what the community reaction will be, seems a bad idea. The citizens of Forest Park, Sherwood, Maryville, Farnell, Venetia, Gulf Dale, Dog River, Belvedere and Arlington need to be tested for Misophonia or its lesser forms.
Updated Apr 06, 2021; Posted Apr 06, 2021
A map shows new structures needed to move commercial passenger service to the Downtown Mobile Airport. A new terminal is shown in orange, with new parking areas in green. Interstate 10 can be seen at lower left; Perimeter Road forms a shallow vee, running alongside the interstate at lower left and then angling toward center right of the frame.Lawrence Specker | LSpecker@AL.com
The Federal Aviation Administration has approved a plan to shift commercial air service from Mobile Regional Airport to the Mobile Downtown Airport at Brookley.
The Mobile Airport Authority (MAA) announced Tuesday that the FAA had approved its 20-year master plan for development, which includes the airport swap. The Airport Authority described the approval as the culmination of three years of work to map out a vision for air service in Mobile.
The Airport Authority’s announcement included statements of approval from Sen. Richard Shelby, Gov. Kay Ivey, Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson, Mobile City Council President Levon Manzie and Mobile County Commissioner Connie Hudson.
“The input from community leaders, business owners, and local residents was invaluable to our team,” said MAA President Chris Curry. “Their recommendations helped our team develop the best possible plan to provide premium air service from the Mobile Downtown Airport.”
“We owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, and Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson,” said Elliot B. Maisel, MAA board chairman. “Their support and leadership have been crucial to the progress we have made towards providing high quality and accessible air travel to the people of Mobile and Baldwin counties.”
The FAA move doesn’t provide funding for the work to switch commercial service, but approval was critical for the project to receive future FAA funding. The MAA already has established a small terminal at the Brookley Aeroplex, designed to service budget carriers. Moving all Mobile’s commercial passenger carriers to Brookley will require the construction of a new terminal and extensive additional work.
The Airport Authority says “Phase 1” work will include a new terminal that will be slightly smaller than Mobile Regional Airport’s terminal, at 130,000 square feet, but will have features that will allow it to qualify as an international terminal. Phase 1 also will include a parking garage, additional parking lots and tarmac expansion; the estimated price tag for the terminal and other features is $160 million.
Mobile competes with other Gulf Coast airports, notably those in Pensacola and Gulfport-Biloxi. For years, some have argued that Mobile Regional’s competitiveness has been hampered by its location, which is in west Mobile without any convenient connection to I-10, I-65 or downtown Mobile.
Backers of the swap have argued that Brookley makes more sense because it is right off I-10 near the I-65 junction. In recent years the MAA commissioned a feasibility study that found Mobile was losing slightly over half its market to neighboring airports. The study found that an airport swap was “both feasible and critical” if the MAA wanted to recapture its own customer base.
Tuesday’s announcement said the Airport Authority is “currently working on a strategy to clear the space to build the new terminal.” It expects to open the new facility in 2024.
“The FAA’s approval of the master plan for the Mobile Downtown Airport is great news and a big step in the process in enhancing commercial air travel in the region,” said Shelby. “I am pleased to see this progress and look forward to working with the Mobile Airport Authority and the FAA on this initiative, which will undoubtedly add to the current economic growth and success of Alabama’s Gulf Coast.”
 Psychiatry: Bulletin Of Royal Australian And New Zealand College Of Psychiatrists, 24 (2): 195–197, doi:1177/1039856215613010, PMID26508801 Jump up to: a b c d e f Cavanna AE, Seri S (Aug 2015). “Misophonia: current perspectives”. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 11: 2117–23. doi:10.2147/NDT.S81438. PMC 4547634. PMID 26316758.
 None of the articles nor he Mobile Airport Authority’s (MAA) Master Plan explain exactly what “swap” means. One interpretation would suggest that just the airline service at MOB will be “SWAPPED” with BFM. “SWAP” could also be read to mean land being exchanged or that MOB will eventually be sold and the funds moved for BFM development.
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