Okaloosa County and Eglin Air Force Base ink new airport agreement

Tracy Stage

EGLIN AFB — The excellent news far outweighed the unhealthy this week for Okaloosa County Airports Director Tracy Stage as he balanced the lack of a service with the finalization of a joint-use agreement that extends a facility partnership between the county and Eglin Air Force Base by 2061.

“We have solidified the way forward for VPS and our partnership with the Air Force, a partnership that started in 1957,” Stage stated, utilizing the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport’s three-letter airport code. “The joint use agreement is one thing we have been engaged on for a lot of years, and we’re simply ecstatic to have it accomplished.”

The announcement comes at the same time as United Airlines has notified airport officials that it will cease operations at the airport in March. United has maintained a comparatively small presence at there for years, however determined to chop ties for operational and monetary causes.

The deal between the county and army to share area on Eglin’s property was authorized Tuesday by the Okaloosa County Commission. It technically will not be finalized till the Air Force’s deputy secretary for installations indicators off on it, however that seems to be merely a formality, Stage stated.

“The county and the Air Force are in full agreement,” he stated. “I anticipate to have a totally executed doc in a matter of days.”

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Stage stated he was hesitant to delve too far into specifics of the agreement for concern regional rivals may gain advantage from the data.

“Our purpose was to achieve some flexibility in our peak seasons and not impression the army missions on the airport,” he stated. “We achieved that by regulating our operations by the hour … as an alternative of our operations being managed each day, they’re now managed hourly.”

The agreement additionally will increase a each day “cap” on industrial flights in and out of the airport, Stage stated.

County Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel, who serves as a liaison between the county and its three airports, known as the new joint-use agreement, “one of many largest doc signings I’ve been a part of in my eight years as a county commissioner.”

“It took most likely a decade, and I believe we went by six (Eglin) commanders within the time in took to get it executed. The satan was within the particulars, this agreement concerned the FAA, the Pentagon and the Department of Defense in addition to the county and the Eglin commander,” she stated. “Lots of people do not perceive the ramifications, but it surely’s an ideal marriage between the army and tourism.”

Destin-Fort Walton Airport’s alternative for progress

The joint use agreement also affords Destin-Fort Walton Airport the opportunity for future growth. It is presently closing in on completion of a new concourse that’s set to open in April.

Stage stated development of the concourse that can be residence to Allegiant Airlines is on schedule and on funds. The airports division itself, he stated, is debt free and “smashing each report there ever was” for the variety of passengers flying in and out.

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He stated he expects year-end numbers to mirror 2 million passengers served — a rise from 700,000 simply 5 years in the past — and a $2 billion financial impression on the native economic system.

“Due to the county commissioners’ implausible management, the residents of Okaloosa County now have an enhanced use lease till 2063 and a joint-use agreement till 2061,” Stage stated. “We have a debt-free three airport system, we have grown ridership 150%, we have now all of the main air carriers flying to over 50 cities within the nation and we have executed all of this within the final 5 years.”

This article initially appeared on Northwest Florida Daily News: Okaloosa signs long term joint use airport agreement with Eglin AFB


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