The Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport is working with Mississippi state legislators to pass a bill to expand flights going in and out of the airport. The bill would give incentives to help bring new airlines in, and increase flights with existing airlines. At the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, flyers and tenants are excited about the possibility of more airline carriers and flights. The prospect is looking good so far since the bill unanimously passed in the state Senate last week. Now, it’s on its way to the House, and Mississippi legislators are optimistic about what the bill could do for Gulfport. Mississippi Senator, Sean Tindell, has been working with the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport on a bill to attract more airline carriers. The bill would give airlines already operating in the airport funding to help expand flight options to big cities. The airport would be able to offer funding to new airlines to move into Gulfport as well. Senator Tindell says that this bill is about more than just the airport. He says, "It will allow our local airport here in Gulfport to offer incentives, hopefully to bring in a new carrier, which is vital to the tourism industry and something that they promoted and authored and I think we've got a good shot of getting that through this year."
Other companies that work with the airport would see economic gains as well. Concessions, rental car companies, and local hotels could all see an increase in business if more flights are coming in and out of the airport. Mario Spann of Dollar Rent-A-Car says, "More airline carriers means more people coming in. It would be much better for the business, more cars going out, and also for the city, more people in the city, talking about what Gulfport and Biloxi have to offer." Tindell says that since Hurricane Katrina, the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport has had trouble attracting airlines that fear another big hurricane, but this has meant fewer direct flights for passengers like Ariana Davenport. She is a military wife whose husband is stationed in the area, and her flight to get here was not an easy one. Davenport says, "I had to be on three different airlines for this whole round trip I've had to deal with."
Tindell tells News 25 that the funding for the incentives would come from public and private source matching, as well as the Mississippi Development Authority. He says the incentives would be given like a grant to the airlines with limitations on how the money could be spent. Tindell also says that the trickle-down effects from this bill will help spark more growth in Gulfport. Tindell and the airport hope the bill gets through quickly so they can start organizing funding and getting flights into Gulfport.