Mobile Regional Airport
|Mobile Regional Airport
Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile
Bates Army Airfield
|2006 USGS airphoto|
|IATA: MOB – ICAO: KMOB – FAA LID: MOB|
|Airport type||Public / Military|
|Owner/Operator||Mobile Airport Authority|
|Location||8400 Airport Boulevard
Mobile County, west of Mobile, Alabama
|Elevation AMSL||219 ft / 67 m|
Mobile Regional Airport (IATA: MOB, ICAO: KMOB, FAA LID: MOB) is a joint public and military use airport located 11 nautical miles (20 km) west of the central business district of Mobile, a city in Mobile County, Alabama, United States. It is also 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. A total of 603,192 people used the airport in 2006. As of June 2007, the airport had 50 daily flights.
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.
Early years 
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 a 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 an intermediate stop in Birmingham, AL.
Eastern Airlines continued to serve Mobile as well and by the 1960's was operating Lockheed L-188 Electra turboprops into the airport. Eastern then introduced jet service, flying Boeing 727-100 and Douglas DC-9 jetliners primarily to Atlanta. Over the years at various times, Eastern also operated one-stop, direct no-change-of-plane jet service from Mobile to Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, and Boston. Eastern continued to serve Mobile until its demise in 1991.
Southern Airways also served Mobile. In the 1970s, Southern flew nonstop Douglas DC-9 jet service to Atlanta and New Orleans, and also operated direct, no-change-of-plane DC-9 jet service to Memphis, St. Louis, Washington Dulles International Airport, New York LaGuardia Airport, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Milwaukee, and other destinations. Southern then merged with North Central Airlines to form Republic Airlines which continued to serve Mobile. Republic in turn was acquired by Northwest Airlines which then continued to serve the airport with Douglas DC-9 jet flights to the Northwest hub in Memphis. Northwest was eventually merged into Delta Air Lines.
National Airlines served Mobile as well with Lockheed L-188 Electra turboprop aircraft. National later introduced Boeing 727-200 jet service from the airport with nonstop flights to New Orleans and Houston with direct service to Jacksonville, Tampa, Miami and other destinations. At one point, National operated direct, no-change-of-plane Boeing 727-200 jet flights from Mobile to Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.
Construction of the MC Farmer Terminal was completed in 1985.
The 21st century 
United Airlines 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.
Delta Air Lines dropped several flights from Mobile in 2006. At this same time, Continental Airlines added flights from the airport. In December 2006, Delta offered six weekday flights to Atlanta (ATL) and one to its Cincinnati (CVG) hub. Delta then discontinued service to Cincinnati from Mobile on 12 December 2006 as part of an effort to downsize this former Delta hub.
American Airlines restored service to Chicago (ORD) in April 2007 but then discontinued its flights into Mobile in September 2008. American continues to operate flights from Mobile to Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) via its American Eagle regional airline affiliate.
In 2010, Northwest Airlines was merged into Delta Air Lines. Northwest had operated nonstop service from Mobile to its former hub in Memphis (MEM); however, these flights were discontinued following the merger with Delta.
Following its merger with Continental Airlines in 2012, United Airlines resumed operations at Mobile with flights to and from its hub in Houston (IAH). United offers seven weekday flights to Houston. United also resumed service to its hub in Chicago (ORD) on April 9, 2013. All United service is presently flown by its United Express regional affiliate operated by Express Jet.
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 8502 ft × 150 ft (2591 m × 46 m) and 18/36 is 4376 ft × 150 ft (1334 m × 46 m). It also has one helipad designated H1 which measures 100 ft × 100 ft (30 m × 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, 2008, the airport had 116,757 aircraft operations, an average of 319 per day: 61% military, 21% general aviation, 14% air taxi and 3% scheduled commercial. At that time there were 59 aircraft based at this airport: 58% single-engine, 7% multi-engine, 5% jet, 2% helicopter and 29% military.
Airlines and destinations 
The major carriers out of Mobile are United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, based on the number of daily flights serving the airport. 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, Douglas DC-9-50 and McDonnell Douglas MD-88. 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 April, 2013):
|American Eagle||Dallas/Fort Worth||3|
|Delta Air Lines||Atlanta||2|
|Delta Connection operated by ExpressJet||Atlanta||6|
|United Express operated by ExpressJet||Chicago-O'Hare, Houston-Intercontinental||7|
|US Airways Express operated by Air Wisconsin||Charlotte||1|
|US Airways Express operated by PSA Airlines||Charlotte||3|
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.,
Presidential Visit 
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.
See also 
- 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
- FAA Airport Master Record for MOB ( PDF), effective 2009-05-07.
- Mobile Airport History
- Aero Spring 2006
- President Arrives in Alabama, Briefed on Hurricane Katrina
- Mobile Regional Airport, official web site
- (PDF), effective May 2, 2013
- FAA Terminal Procedures for MOB, effective May 2, 2013
- Resources for this airport: