Panama City - Bay County International Airport Receives Funding Commitment Letter from FAA for Airport Relocation
Tuesday May 29, 6:05 pm ET
FAA Commits $72 Million Over Four Years
PANAMA CITY, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Panama City - Bay County International Airport and Industrial District (Airport Authority) announced today that it had received a commitment letter from the FAA for at least $72 million dollars to fund the relocation of the Panama City - Bay County International Airport to a site in West Bay to be donated by The St. Joe Company (NYSE:JOE - News).
In its commitment letter, the FAA said, "We commit to work with the Panama City - Bay County International Airport District toward the successful completion of this project."
The FAA agreed to provide the total amount of Federal investment requested by the Airport Authority. Because the FAA will be providing the funds over four years instead of the longer period that had been anticipated, the Airport Authority will be able to significantly reduce the financing costs of the project, lowering the overall cost of relocation.
In addition, the airport will be able to use its annual entitlement funds, totaling approximately $7 million, for the project as they become available.
As a result of its extensive analysis of the project the FAA concluded that, "...both physical and environmental restrictions at the existing site make it impractical and extremely costly to update to meet FAA standards. Even if the FAA were to upgrade the existing site, it would not result in an airfield that fully complied with FAA standards. These limitations on the existing airfield provide sufficient justification for a Federal investment in the project."
"We are extremely grateful to the FAA for all their work on this much needed project, and especially for providing us the total amount of federal funds we requested," said Airport Authority Chairman Joseph Tannehill. "Five years of FAA review and analysis left no doubt this project is absolutely necessary to meet the future aviation demands of this community and this region."
"We are also grateful to the Florida Department of Transportation for their visionary leadership and commitment to Bay County and Northwest Florida," said Tannehill.
"Because of their efforts, Northwest Florida will be a very important part of Florida's future, and we will be able to share in the prosperity enjoyed across this great state."
"By relocating to West Bay, we will be able to provide this community an airport that meets all federal design standards, while putting us in a position to attract more competitive air service and meet aviation demand as it grows," said Tannehill. "The new airport will also provide this region a strong economic development platform."
"Best of all, airport relocation will allow us to protect forever nearly the entire shoreline of West Bay and a surrounding 40,000 acres. It is an incredible once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to chart our future and protect our quality of life," said Tannehill.
Earlier this week the Airport Authority accepted a commitment of an additional $67 million in Florida Department of Transportation funds (FDOT) for the purpose of relocating the airport. State funding commitments to date total more than $119 million since the relocation effort began.
In March 2007, the Airport Authority began negotiating final terms with the probable high bidder for the existing airport property. The final contract price is expected to be well in excess of the amount necessary to make the Airport Authority's financial plan work.
The St. Joe Company is donating the 4,000-acre airport site and encumbering approximately 10,000 additional acres for environmental mitigation.
No local tax dollars are being used to relocate the airport.
"Our funding plan is coming together very nicely," said Tannehill. "We have received the necessary commitments from the state and federal government. We have solid bid in hand for the sale of our existing property. St. Joe is donating the land for the airport and for the necessary mitigation. We are on solid ground with our budget and our financial plan."
"The funding commitments that we have received from both the state and federal government further validates the need for this airport," said Airport Executive Director Randy Curtis. "We have worked very closely with the FAA and the Florida Department of Transportation to address the deficiencies of our existing airport and provide a facility capable of serving this region for decades to come."
"There are many people to thank for their help," said Tannehill. "I'd like to extend my personal gratitude -and the gratitude of this community - to Senator Nelson, Senator Martinez, Congressman Boyd, and Governor Crist for their leadership and help. There are many more leaders and agencies at the local, state and federal level who helped make this happen - and we thank them all."