Hancock Co. airport to play role during Super Bowl - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Hancock Co. airport to play role during Super Bowl

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HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

As the rich and famous head to New Orleans for Super Bowl 47, their first stop in the South may be in Hancock County. Stennis International Airport is on tap to serve as an over-flow facility for private and corporate jets when the New Orleans airports are too full.

The new airport terminal at Stennis International Airport won't be finished in time for the Super Bowl rush, but the all important taxiways and parking areas for planes will be ready.

"It will give us the ability to park additional aircraft with Super Bowl coming just a week away," said Airport Director Bill Cotter.

Cotter said 11 years ago, when the Super Bowl last came to New Orleans, Stennis hosted 110 private and corporate jets. He expects more than 150 this time around.

"Aircraft from a smaller Cessna all the way up to a Boeing 757 have already reserved space here at the airport. Eleven years ago Miss Mariah Carey, Mary J Blige, Rudolph Giuliani and a host of NFL players both past and present went through the airport. For a combination of reasons, they choose Stennis International Airport," explained Cotter.

One of those reasons, he said, deals with aviation security. There will be a 30 mile restricted fly zone over the Superdome.

"To fly into New Orleans International Airport or the Lakefront Airport, you'll have a slot time. You'll have about a 15 minute window of opportunity to depart. If you miss that slot time, then you're going to be stuck on the ground a while. We do not have that here because we're outside of the temporary flight restriction."

Cotter said the additional traffic will result in an economic boost for the county.

"We will be putting pilots up in local hotels, there will be catering opportunities for local restaurants as well."

Cotter expects the Super Bowl flights to begin arriving the Thursday before the big game and he's confident Stennis airport will be ready to roll out the welcome mat.

He expects other airports in the region will also get a boost from Super Bowl traffic.

Clay Williams at the Gulfport Biloxi International Airport told WLOX News that commercial fan charters are scheduled to land here. Some commercial carriers will fly larger planes into the coast to accommodate the increased crowds and more than 100 private planes are plotting their course to land in Gulfport next week.

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