Orange Beach, AL

Gulf Coast Airport Planning to Start Air Service In Time For Spring Break 2023.

Kevin Alexander

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Orange Beach, Alabama. The gulf coast could see more people arriving by air thanks to a government grant award.Kaiser vacations

The Alabama gulf coast has long been known as a drive-in destination. But plans are underway to change that, and commercial air services could begin as soon as spring break in 2023.

In August, the airport received a $500,000 grant from the Department of Transportation. This money will be used as an incentive to lure airlines to the airport. Currently, the field only sees private & general aviation traffic but is the second busiest in the state, trailing only Birmingham.

"It provides us with additional marketing funds and incentives to go toward specific airlines to develop routes. We have a lot of demand with nearly 8 million visitors a year coming in here," said Scott Fuller, Airport Authority Director for the Gulf Shores International Airport.

What's a SCASDP Grant?

SCASDP stands for Small Community Air Service Development Program and is just that; smaller communities put together a plan to incentivize new services or increase existing services. The government then awards those grants, and the airport authorities work with various airlines to initiate service.

If you build it, they will come

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Jack Edwards Gulf Shores AirportWKRG.com

This latest push follows several steps made to make the airport viable for service. Previously, the city had invested in building a passenger terminal and critical lighting and fencing upgrades. A temporary 2-gate, 12000 square foot terminal will be set up first, with a permanent structure coming later.

With people driving 8-12 hours to get to gulf shores, flying could be an appealing alternative.

“We know where our top ten cities are…people coming here, Nashville being the top one,” Fuller said. “Houston, Dallas, Chicago. But before we go marketing to Chicago, we’ve got to have a flight there.”

Currently, The Gulf Shores airport is talking with Sun Country to introduce service to Minneapolis and Elite about flights to Nashville. Two other airlines have also expressed interest in beginning service.

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