Airport board makes strides

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 6, 2011

In the last few weeks, the Florala Airport Authority Board has made two significant moves to better the city’s municipal airport, Mayor Robert Williamson said Friday.

Williamson said a new lease was signed by airport authority officials and representatives from Sunshine Aero, Inc., the airport’s only tenant, “about two weeks ago. The company, which is an aircraft fueling operation, currently occupies about 10-acres on the property. One of the biggest changes in the contract was the removal of the company’s exclusive rights of the fuel service at the airport.

By executing a new lease, it also allows the board to take advantage of annual Federal Aviation Administration allocations, as well as to collect rent by Sunshine Aero based on fuel flowage per gallon sold and rent on the land and buildings.

“In essence what the new lease does is create a way that the airport authority can apply equitable lease straight across the board if there are other prospects that want to locate here,” said board attorney Wes Laird previously.

Williamson called the new lease a “step in the right direction.”

“We never wanted to see Sunshine leave,” he said. “There’s just some housekeeping things that need to be done to make the airport more appealing to not only pilots, but also any industry that might be willing to locate there.”

Also, Williamson said the board is now seeking grant funds to design a master plan to revitalize the city’s airport.

In July, the board contracted with a Montgomery-based engineering firm to design a long-range plan for the Florala Municipal Airport. The decision will allow the airport to now apply for an estimated $150,000 in Federal Aviation Administration funds.

Florala Mayor Robert Williamson said Friday, the board is applying for a grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation’s avionics division to cover the cost of the project.

“With that money, we can put together an airport layout plan – which is the first step in developing our airport,” Williamson said. “This is a very exciting time for Florala, where the airport is concerned. We want the airport to be developed because it not only means jobs for the people of Florala, it also means revenue for the city.”