Mobile Regional Airport
|Mobile Regional Airport
Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile
(former Bates Army Airfield)
|IATA: MOB – ICAO: KMOB – FAA LID: MOB
– WMO: 72223
|Airport type||Public / Military|
|Owner/Operator||Mobile Airport Authority|
|Elevation AMSL||219 ft / 67 m|
Mobile Regional Airport (IATA: MOB, ICAO: KMOB, FAA LID: MOB) is a public and military use airport located 11 nautical miles (20 km) west of Mobile, a city in Mobile County, Alabama, United States. It is near Pascagoula, Mississippi. The airport, owned and operated by the Mobile Airport Authority, is an independent, self-funded entity that receives no local tax dollars.
It is included in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2011–2015, which categorized it as a primary commercial service airport. As per Federal Aviation Administration records, the airport had 286,956 passenger boardings (enplanements) in calendar year 2008, 280,491 enplanements in 2009, and 277,232 in 2010.
The airport is also home to U.S. Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile, providing advanced training to U.S. Coast Guard pilots and aircrew in HH-65 Dolphin and HH-60 Jayhawk helicopters as well as HU-25 Guardian jets and HC-144 Ocean Sentry turboprop aircraft. The Alabama Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 131st Aviation Regiment's "B" Company is also located at the airport.
Eastern Air Lines served Mobile beginning during the 1930s. A Douglas DC-3 flew one of the early Eastern routes, being Atlanta-Montgomery-Mobile-New Orleans-Baton Rouge-Beaumont,TX-Houston. Eastern would continue to serve the airport for many years.
Bates Army Airfield
During World War II, the United States Army Air Forces used Mobile Regional Airport. The 533d Army Air Force Base Unit commanded the airport, then known as Bates Field. The Army Air Forces also operated an auxiliary airfield at St. Elmo Airport.
The Army used this airport as a basic (level 1) pilot training airfield, under contract to Waterman Airlines. They performed flying training with Fairchild PT-19 aircraft as the primary trainer. The Army also assigned several Boeing-Stearman Model 75 aircraft. The Army also used Bates for glider pilot training under contract to Mobile Area Soaring, which used primarily Douglas C-47 Skytrain and Waco CG-4 unpowered gliders. The school aimed to train student pilots in proficiency in operation of gliders in various types of towed and soaring flight, both day and night, and in servicing of gliders in the field.
In 1944 with the reduced demand for pilots, the Army ended the flying training, and Domestic Transport Division of Air Transport Command (United States Air Force) used the airport as a transport airfield. Air Transport Command moved operations to Brookley Army Airfield (later Brookley Air Force Base) near downtown Mobile in late 1945.
U.S. Air Force and U.S. Coast Guard Activity
The U.S. Air Force returned to Bates Field in May 1959 when the Air Force Reserve activated the 78th Troop Carrier Squadron at the airport with Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar aircraft. In 1961, the Air Force moved this squadron to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana as a Douglas C-124 Globemaster II heavy-lift squadron. The 357th Troop Carrier Squadron then replaced it and acquired the C-119s. The Air Force subsequently upgraded Bates to a Group level upon organizing the 908th Troop Carrier Group, Medium in 1963. However, the Air Force, then moved the reservists to the larger Brookley Air Force Base located near downtown Mobile in October 1964 due to budget restraints.
In 1966 the U.S. Coast Guard acquired the vacant U.S. Air Force Reserve facility on the airfield. On December 17, 1966, the Coast Guard officially commissioned an Air Station in Mobile with Grumman HU-16 Albatross fixed wing aircraft from the Coast Guard's Air Station in nearby Biloxi, MS. The Coast Guard also established a fixed wing and helicopter training facility at the airport. U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Mobile serves as an Aviation Training Center with a designated headquarters unit that is under the direct control of the Commandant of the Coast Guard.
Past airline service
One of the first airlines besides Eastern to serve Mobile was Capital Airlines with flights to Atlanta, Birmingham, AL, New Orleans, New York-Newark, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. Capital served the airport with British-manufactured Vickers Viscount four engine turboprop airliners. United Airlines then acquired Capital Airlines in 1961 and initially continued to serve many of the former Capital Airlines routes with the same inherited Vickers Viscount turboprops and also with Douglas DC-6B prop airliners. United also introduced the first-ever jet service to Mobile, flying a French-manufactured Sud Aviation Caravelle twin jet on daily round-trip service to and from New York-Newark via Birmingham, AL. United ceased mainline jet service to Mobile in 1971 although United Express currently serves the airport with regional jets.
In the 1960s Eastern Airlines was flying Lockheed L-188 Electras to Mobile and then introduced Boeing 727-100s and Douglas DC-9s primarily to Atlanta. At times Eastern operated direct jet service from Mobile to Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis and Boston. Eastern served Mobile until its demise in 1991.
Southern Airways also served Mobile. In the 1970s, Southern flew nonstop Douglas DC-9s to Atlanta and New Orleans, and direct DC-9s to Memphis, St. Louis, Washington Dulles International Airport, New York LaGuardia Airport, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Milwaukee. Southern merged with North Central Airlines to form Republic Airlines which was then acquired by Northwest Airlines which in turn continued to serve the airport with DC-9 jets to the former Northwest hub in Memphis. Northwest was eventually merged into Delta Air Lines.
National Airlines served Mobile with Lockheed L-188 Electras. National later introduced Boeing 727-200s with nonstops to New Orleans and Houston and direct to Jacksonville, Tampa, Miami and other destinations. At one point National operated direct B727-200 flights from Mobile to Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego. Following its acquisition of National, Pan Am served the airport with Boeing 727-100s.
USAir (which became US Airways and has now been merged into American Airlines) operated nonstop flights to Charlotte, NC (CLT) during the mid 1990s with McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 and Fokker F100 jetliners.
Continental Airlines flew nonstop service to Houston Intercontinental Airport (IAH) during the late 1990s with Boeing 737-200 and McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 jets. Continental has since been merged into United Airlines.
The MC Farmer Terminal was completed in 1985.
The 21st century
United Airlines via United Express previously served Mobile from its hubs in Chicago (ORD) and Washington D.C. (IAD). However, following the September 11, 2001 attacks, United canceled all service and withdrew from Mobile. United Express has since reinstated nonstop service to Chicago and also flies nonstop to Houston (IAH) following the merger of United with Continental Airlines. Regional jets are operated on all United Express flights serving Mobile.
In 2006 Delta Air Lines dropped several flights from Mobile and Continental Airlines added flights. In December 2006 Delta had six weekday flights to Atlanta and one to its Cincinnati hub. Delta ended service to Cincinnati on December 12, 2006.
American Airlines restored flights to Chicago (ORD) in April 2007 but ended them in September 2008. Flights to Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) continue on its American Eagle regional airline affiliate via the use of Embraer ERJ regional jet aircraft.
After its merger with Continental Airlines in 2012 United Airlines (via its United Express regional affiliate operated by Express Jet) resumed flights to its hub in Houston (IAH), seven weekday flights. United Express also resumed service to the United hub in Chicago (ORD) on April 9, 2013.
It was at the Mobile Regional Airport that President George W. Bush, in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on September 2, 2005, praised Michael D. Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Bush lauded Brown with the phrase "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job" in front of Brown, the media, and assembled politicians and cabinet officials (including Mississippi Senator Trent Lott; Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran; Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour; Alabama Governor Bob Riley; Michael Chertoff, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and Alphonso Jackson, Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development). Only ten days later, on September 12, 2005, Brown announced his resignation after intense criticism of FEMA's perceived shortcomings in its response to Katrina. The phrase "heck of a job" then became synonymous with an utter mess.
Facilities and aircraft
Mobile Regional Airport covers an area of 1,717 acres (695 ha) at an elevation of 219 feet (67 m) above mean sea level. It has two asphalt paved runways: 14/32 is 8,502 by 150 feet (2,591 x 46 m) and 18/36 is 4,376 by 150 feet (1,334 x 46 m). It also has one helipad designated H1 with an asphalt surface measuring 100 by 100 feet (30 x 30 m).
The terminal at Mobile Regional Airport includes newly renovated shops and restaurants, such as local favorite Carpe Diem Coffee and Tea, car rental agencies and handicap accessible elevators.
For the 12-month period ending December 31, 2011, the airport had 102,427 aircraft operations, an average of 280 per day: 66% military, 18% general aviation, 15% air taxi, and 1% scheduled commercial. At that time there were 78 aircraft based at this airport: 46% military, 41% single-engine, 12% jet, and 1% multi-engine.
Airlines and destinations
The major carriers out of Mobile are United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, based on the number of flights. Additional weekday departures were as follows: Charlotte (4 flights via US Airways Express) and Dallas/Fort Worth (3 flights via American Eagle). Schedules were slightly reduced on the weekends.
Regional airlines doing business on behalf of the major network airlines, as listed, primarily serve Mobile. Delta Air Lines alone presently operates mainline passenger service from the airport and utilizes such jetliner types as the Airbus A319 and McDonnell Douglas MD-88. Delta also operated the McDonnell Douglas DC-9-50 into Mobile prior to the retirement of this aircraft type from their fleet. All other scheduled passenger services are currently operated with either Canadair or Embraer regional jet aircraft.
The following routes are flown nonstop or direct from Mobile (as of August, 2014):
|American Eagle||Dallas/Fort Worth||3|
|Delta Air Lines||Atlanta||2|
|United Express||Chicago-O'Hare, Houston-Intercontinental||7|
|US Airways Express||Charlotte||4|
|Carrier||Passengers (arriving and departing)|
|1||Atlanta, GA||Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (ATL)||132,000|
|2||Houston, TX||George Bush Intercontinental (IAH)||61,000|
|3||Charlotte, NC||Charlotte Douglas International (CLT)||45,000|
|4||Dallas/Fort Worth, TX||Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW)||37,000|
|5||Chicago, IL||Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD)||11,000|
The airport has a reputation for high domestic fares, and they are usually attributed to the lack of a true low-cost carrier (LCC) serving the airport, such as JetBlue or Southwest Airlines. Low-cost carrier AirTran Airways served the airport for a time, but Delta Airlines and other airlines matched fares on the routes that AirTran served, and passengers continued to fly the traditional network carriers. AirTran ultimately discontinued all service, and fares increased once again. AirTran later entered the Pensacola market, and fares dropped significantly from Pensacola International Airport. Because of this, many people drive about an hour in either direction to Pensacola International Airport in Florida or the Gulfport Airport in Mississippi. However, fares from Pensacola are lower primarily on routes that AirTran serves. AirTran has now been acquired by Southwest Airlines which is currently in the process of merging the AirTran operation into Southwest. On other routes, including international services, Mobile and Pensacola offer similar fares. In order to attract and maintain frequent flyers, Mobile Regional Airport offered the first airport-based frequent flyer program, called Passport. Passport was launched with a media blitz and new slogan: "Fly Smarter, Fly Mobile."
The Mobile Airport Authority encourages passengers to use multiple airlines to stimulate more competition and lower fares, and it continues to work to attract a low-cost carrier. The Authority also believes that both Mobile and Pensacola would be better served if a single airport was built to serve both cities in Baldwin County, Alabama—midway between both cities. However, the Authority claims that Pensacola officials do not want their airport in Alabama and have withdrawn from exploratory discussions.
- FAA Airport Master Record for MOB ( PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. Effective November 15, 2012.
- "2011–2015 NPIAS Report, Appendix A" (PDF, 2.03 MB). National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems. Federal Aviation Administration. October 4, 2010.
- "Enplanements for CY 2008" (PDF, 1.0 MB). CY 2008 Passenger Boarding and All-Cargo Data. Federal Aviation Administration. December 18, 2009.
- "Enplanements for CY 2010" (PDF, 189 KB). CY 2010 Passenger Boarding and All-Cargo Data. Federal Aviation Administration. October 4, 2011.
- North American Official Airline Guide (OAG), April 1, 1981 edition
- North American Official Airline Guide (OAG), February 1, 1985 edition
- North American Official Airline Guide (OAG), February 1, 1995 edition
- North American Official Airline Guide (OAG), October 1, 1999 edition
- Mobile Airport History
- President Arrives in Alabama, Briefed on Hurricane Katrina
- "Mobile, AL: Mobile Regional (MOB)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics. July 2013. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
- Aero Spring 2006
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.
- Shaw, Frederick J. (2004), Locating Air Force Base Sites History’s Legacy, Air Force History and Museums Program, United States Air Force, Washington DC, 2004.
- Manning, Thomas A. (2005), History of Air Education and Training Command, 1942–2002. Office of History and Research, Headquarters, AETC, Randolph AFB, Texas ASIN: B000NYX3PC
- Mobile Regional Airport, official web site
- Aerial image as of March 2002 from USGS The National Map
- (PDF), effective December 11, 2014
- FAA Terminal Procedures for MOB, effective December 11, 2014
- Resources for this airport: