GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - "To see what you're doing now to rebuild this airport and this city is just historic," said James Coyne, President of the National Air Transportation Association.
Coyne was referring to the newest tenant at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. Million Air, a $12 million general aviation facility, will welcome business travelers, casino patrons, military members, and cargo planes to South Mississippi.
On Monday, more than a dozen journalists from all over the world toured the new fixed-based operator. Coyne called it a first-class facility.
"You have a better FBO being built right here than we have at any of the airports in our nation's capital and I think that's something to be very proud of," Coyne said.
The 20,000 square foot hangar has enough room for up to 20 aircraft, depending on their size. Attached to the hangar is an on-site U.S. Customs processing area for international travelers.
One section under construction is reserved for VIP clients, with private wet bars, communications center, and restrooms. Upstairs, there's a movie theatre, workout room, and relaxation areas. The facility will also supply fuel for aircraft and maintenance service for private jets and planes.
"Million Air likes to say it's the main street of the communities that they serve," said Frank Genzer, Airport Authority Commissioner. "The airport and this facility represent the first and last impression that most aviation travelers have."
The building is located on the south side of the air field., Airport leaders say the aviation facility, along with a new air traffic control tower, air cargo facility, and access road from Highway 49, will spark economic growth.
"We look at the Million Air facility at Gulfport-Biloxi as being the catalyst that's really going to create a lot more energy in general aviation, offering new hangar space, first class service, outstanding facilities, second to none in the nation," said Airport Director Bruce Frallic.
Million Air is based in Houston, Texas. The new facility opens in June and the new control tower opens next year. These changes are part of the airport's ten-year master plan.