Picayune’s municipal airport may not be the busiest place in town, but it is home to a lot of business.
The small airport offers a number of amenities that travelers flying between Texas and Florida know well, said manager Andy Greenwood.
At any time of the day or night, pilots can land at the airport to fuel their plane or take a restroom break, Greenwood said. Picayune is in the middle of a flight between the states of Texas and Florida.
“This is a good mid point for them to get out, refuel and stretch their legs,” Greenwood said.
Once in town, pilots have access to the services Picayune offers, such as rental cars, hotels and restaurants, Greenwood said.
Plane storage is also offered through a number of T-hangers available for lease. Greenwood said typically about two-thirds of the hangers are occupied at all times, but most of that business comes from word of mouth.
Three fix-based operators are located at the site; one provides maintenance services and another can provide aviation instruction to those interested in becoming a pilot.
The third involves oil and natural gas exploration through Chevron and El Paso Corporation. Their work entails dispatching helicopters to explore for deposits, said Mayor Ed Pinero Jr. Both companies employ about 100 people.
Pinero said the municipal airport offers stand-alone helipads, a unique offering in this area. The helipads and onsite mechanic present an opportunity for the city to attract more companies that utilize helicopters in their work, Pinero said.
Overlay work is planned for the airport’s apron and taxiway. The grant-funded work is expected to begin by the end of the summer. Greenwood said the $470,000 grant requires a match from the city and the Mississippi Department of Transportation. Each will put up five percent of the total grant as a match. When it begins, the work is expected to take about a month to complete.
Recently, the airport has seen an increase in Air Force and Coast Guard activity because the facility meets their needs, Greenwood said.
Detailed information on the airport’s economic impact is expected to be available soon. Greenwood said MDOT has contracted with third party company to collect data that will determine the economic impact of aviation within Mississippi. Greenwood said the he expects the report to be available soon.
City officials are still seeking grant funding to expand the runway. Even at its current length, the runway can potentially provide an emergency landing site for large aircraft, Pinero said.