HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The skies above Hancock County could soon get a lot busier. That's because officials expect the new $7.5 million terminal building at Stennis International Airport will bring more aviation traffic to the county. WLOX News has an exclusive look at the facility.
Airport leaders say it's nothing like Stennis International has ever seen. They are calling it a state of the art terminal building.
"We hope that people come into the facility and when they see what we have to offer, that they just say 'wow.' From what we're coming from to where we're going to is a huge difference, a huge improvement," said David Turner, General Manager of Million Air, the airport's fixed base operator.
Some of the improvements include pilot and crew lounge areas, a computerized flight planning room and a theater room.
"A lot of people are excited about that, a really nice theater room. So, if you have some time before you have to leave if you want to relax and enjoy a movie. We will have a couple of sleep rooms for those who are spending more than a couple of hours on the ground, and they want to rest an air crew can rest in one of those sleep rooms," Turner said.
On the second floor there is a restaurant. The Fly Away Cafe' will be opened to the community. The top floor also offers a birds eye-view of the runway. The area will eventually double as an aviation museum.
Airport leaders say the new terminal building will allow them to open up aviation activity to the general public.
"It's our hope and desire that younger folks come out here, get the opportunity to view aviation to feel it, see it, touch it. Most airports, with six feet of chain link fence and three strands of barbwire, are not very appealing to today's youth," explained Airport Director Bill Cotter.
Cotter and others hope the new terminal will attract more aviation traffic and ultimately more money for the county.
"We're hoping after they come here for that first time that they will want to make Stennis International and Million Air a more regular stop," Turner said.
Construction is expected to be finished by mid- June, and the terminal should be fully operational by the 4th of July weekend.