Airport Expansion Brings in More Business

Bulldozers and mounds of dirt line the northern side of the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport--a clear indication that the airport's multimillion dollar expansion project is well underway.

Since the airport expansion began a year and a half ago, the walkway to the building has looked more like a maze, and traffic hasn't been flowing quite as smoothly as it used to.

But airport officials say these minor inconveniences are a small price to pay when you look at the bigger picture.

"Unfortunately because of the construction there are some things that passengers have to do that will add a couple more minutes to their traveling experience, but it's all for the best," said Ken Spirito, the airport's assistant director.

A new restaurant, larger security checkpoints, and an enlarged baggage claim area are just some of the new additions the expansion will bring.

And while the project is still a year from being complete, airport officials says they're already seeing a return on their $50-million dollar investment.

"We're starting to see some of the benefits of increasing our terminal facilities. Delta Airlines, beginning September 1, is upgrading two regional jet flights which are 50 passenger jets, to 142 passenger jets. That will be twice daily. Continental, effective September 8, is upgrading one of their regional jets, which is a 50-passenger jet up to 112 passenger jet," Spirito said.

In less than three months, the airport is set to offer a direct flight to a new destination.

On October 30, officials say American Airlines will begin offering two daily flights to Dallas-Fort Worth, but for now, passengers will have to be patient as the airport goes through its growing pains.