FAIRHOPE — The Fairhope City Council accepted a resolution at last week’s council meeting for the Fairhope Airport Authority to accept $2.9 million in grant funding for the construction of an additional taxi way and apron at the H.L. “Sonny” Callahan Airport in Fairhope.
Referred to as the “east side project,” the construction is phase three of ongoing expansion and upgrades at the airport, according to Airport Authority Chairman Joe McEnerney.
“Our work on this was to prove to the FAA that we have a good project that deserves the funding, and we do,” McEnerney said. “Once the city gives us approval to accept the grant, we should see the money and start work very soon.”
The new grant is part of approximately $9 million in improvements that have been ongoing at the airport.
“These improvements will open up the east side of the airport property to expansion and development,” McEnerney said. “We already have commitments for two or three large hangers to be built there as soon as we provide the runway access. And of course we’re looking for additional business that needs runway access.”
According to information from the Airport Authority, total project cost is expected to be $3,154,876. Funding assistance includes a $2,839,388 request from the Federal Aviation Administration, $157,774 from the State of Alabama Department of Transportation and a $157,774 match from the Fairhope Airport Authority, which has already accumulated and set aside its local matching share. McEnerney noted that the Airport Authority takes in approximately $215,000 a year in revenue from fuel sales and rents.
City Council President Jack Burrell said that the airport includes approximately 250 acres that can be developed under light industrial zoning.
“We’re looking for light industry to provide high-tech, high-paying jobs, with a focus on aviation work,” Burrell said. “That’s what we’ve been growing towards.”
Several weeks ago, Continental Motors Group, which currently has a facility at the Fairhope Airport for the maintenance, repair, and overhaul of aircraft engines, announced that it was closing its facility in San Antonio, Texas, and consolidating manufacturing operations into its advanced manufacturing centers, including the facility at the Fairhope airport.
“The east-side improvements and development could include a new business to repair or do maintenance or testing on aircraft engines or an expansion by Continental, and we certainly would welcome that type of business,” Burrell said.