May 27--A shiny new structure and entrance sign has risen at Stennis International Airport and soon after July 4 a host of new amenities will be available.
Million Air Stennis, the company which runs aeronautical operations there, has been constructing a new building and hangar that dwarfs the one-story facility they have been using.
"We can't wait to get in there," said David Turner, Million Air general manager.
Shaped like two giant, glass-paneled trapezoids, the building will offer a number of services to pilots, crews and passengers.
There will be a conference room, theater, flight planning room, cafe, two lounges, two sleeper rooms for overnight stays. Jet Away Cafe will offer breakfast and lunch.
"When people leave hopefully they have in their minds, 'Why would we want to go anywhere else?'" he said.
The airport makes most of its money through fuel purchases, he said, so any additional fees are waived if fuel is bought. A landing fee and overnight fee based on the weight of the aircraft would otherwise apply.
The airport also recently added a 125-acre drop zone. Turner said 60 to 70 percent of the customers are military-related and come there for various training exercises, including cargo drops.
The area is perfect for military exercises, he said, because Stennis Space Center's acoustic buffer zone prevents nearby development.
"A lot of military training can be done out here because we don't have a lot of buildup around us," he said.
This week the Federal Aviation Administration approved $4.8 million in grants for improvements to 14 airports across the state. Stennis will get $235,053 for the installation of new fencing along its perimeter.
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