Jun. 3--DESTIN -- Destin Airport's new terminal was dedicated Friday, providing the final touch on a project that officials hope will add aesthetic as well as functional improvements to the airport.
The 5,600â€“square-foot terminal includes a passenger waiting area, pilot lounge, administration area, lobby and conference rooms, and a modernized exterior.
"It's going to add some great features to the airport as well as a really nice front," said Terry Curry, operations manager for Okaloosa County's airports.
"It's a big change from what it was," said Walter Brigman, president and general manager of Miracle Strip Aviation, the airport's fixed base operator.
Brigman has gathered photographs to hang on the walls that show the airport's growth over the years. One picture shows Airport Road when it was a runway in the 1960s.
Construction on the terminal started in January 2005. The $1.8 million price tag was shared by the county and Miracle Strip Aviation. Curry said the project was in the county's capital improvements plan as far back as 1997.
Curry said he doesn't expect the improved terminal to increase air traffic, but it will make it a smoother experience for those who use the airport now.
Brigman agreed. He said the new terminal will cater to the airport's existing clientele, including celebrities that land in Destin. Brigman's phone rings off the hook when Britney Spears touches down, and she's just one of many big names who have used the airport over the years.
"Now they can pull right up in front, we roll out a red carpet and they walk into a $2 million terminal," Brigman said. "It's not going to cause anybody to come here, just better facilities for those that do."
The terminal opened about a month ago, but landscaping and work on the parking lots just wrapped up, Brigman said.
Airport officials want the study, which is estimated to cost about $430,000, to be completed by Oct. 31, 2007.
The Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission on Tuesday approved spending $15 million on the existing passenger terminal while devoting $5 million to its potential replacement.
Lexington County, S.C. is planning to turn the old Pelion airstrip into a successful regional airport.