Destin–Fort Walton Beach Airport

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Destin–Fort Walton Beach Airport

Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport.jpg
Airport typePublic / Military
Owner/OperatorUnited States Air Force
ServesFort Walton Beach, Destin
Locationwithin Eglin Air Force Base, adjacent to Valparaiso
Focus city for
Elevation AMSL87 ft / 27 m
Coordinates30°29′00″N 086°31′31″W / 30.48333°N 86.52528°W / 30.48333; -86.52528Coordinates: 30°29′00″N 086°31′31″W / 30.48333°N 86.52528°W / 30.48333; -86.52528
VPS is located in Florida
Location of airport in Florida
VPS is located in the United States
VPS (the United States)
Direction Length Surface
ft m
12/30 11,987 3,654 Asphalt
01/19 10,001 3,048 Asphalt
Aircraft operations (year ending 5/31/2020)15,965
Based aircraft (2022)2

Destin–Fort Walton Beach Airport (IATA: VPS, ICAO: KVPS, FAA LID: VPS) is an airport located within Eglin Air Force Base, on the municipal boundary of Valparaiso, and near Destin and Fort Walton Beach in Okaloosa County, Florida. The airport was previously named Northwest Florida Regional Airport until February 17, 2015, and Okaloosa Regional Airport until September 2008.

The airport is just under sixteen miles away from Destin and takes approximately twenty-five minutes to get to Destin.[3] Only commercial air traffic is allowed. Non-commercial operations by general aviation and business aircraft must use nearby Destin Executive Airport.


In 1957, The Okaloosa County Air Terminal opened on Eglin Air Force Base in building 89 with 3 personnel (Airport Manager, Security and Admin Support). Southern Airways was the only passenger airline, with Douglas DC-3s direct to Atlanta via several stops.[4] Passengers entered the base through the East Gate near Valparaiso, thus the airport code of VPS. Southern would later upgrade their service into the airport with 40-passenger Martin 404 propliners before initiating the first scheduled passenger jet flights at VPS.

1967: Southern Airways introduced Douglas DC-9-10 jetliner service into VPS thus becoming the first airline to operate jets into the airport.

1968: According to the September 3, 1968, Southern Airways system timetable, the airline was operating daily nonstop DC-9-10 jet service to Atlanta and New Orleans with direct, no change of plane DC-9 jet flights twice a day to New York City LaGuardia Airport and Washington D.C. Dulles Airport via intermediate stops in Dothan, AL and Columbus, GA.[5]

February 1975: The new James E. Plew Terminal Building of the Okaloosa Air Terminal, on State Road 85, opened in mid-February 1975, with dedication on 22 February. Representative Bob Sikes and Southern Airways President Frank Hulse were some of the speakers.[6] The 32,000 sq ft (3,000 m2) facility cost $1.7 million. Federal grants totaled $472,000, state $80,000, Okaloosa County bond sale $1.1 million, and Southern Airways $190,000. First year enplaned passengers totaled 97,000 with Southern Airways as the sole airline serving VPS with 12 departing flights daily.

1977: South Central Air Transport (SCAT), a commuter air carrier, was serving the airport with flights to New Orleans, LA, Mobile, AL, Montgomery, AL and Panama City, FL flown with Handley Page Jetstream propjets.[5]

1979: On July 1, 1979 Southern Airways merged with North Central Airlines to form Republic Airlines. In July 1979 Republic flew Douglas DC-9-10 and McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 jets nonstop from VPS to Atlanta, GA; Dothan, AL; Mobile, AL; New Orleans, LA; Orlando, FL and Tallahassee, FL. Republic also operated direct DC-9 jet service to Baton Rouge, LA; Chicago, IL (O'Hare Airport), Fort Lauderdale, FL; Memphis, TN; Monroe, LA; New York (LaGuardia Airport) and Washington D.C. (Dulles Airport).[7] Prior to the merger Southern flew all of these nonstop and direct DC-9 routes as well and also operated direct DC-9 jet service to Birmingham, AL; Miami, FL and Nashville, TN.[8]

1980s: At the beginning of the 1980s, only Republic Airlines was operating nonstop service between VPS and Atlanta. Republic was operating DC-9-10, DC-9-30 and DC-9-50 jets on the route.[9] As the decade progressed, Delta Air Lines and Eastern Air Lines both added nonstop service between the airport and Atlanta via their respective regional airline code sharing partners, Delta Connection and Eastern Metro Express, both of which operated turboprop aircraft into VPS.[9] The Delta Connection service was flown by Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA) operating de Havilland Canada DHC-7 Dash 7 and Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia turboprops. The Eastern Metro Express service was flown by Metro Airlines operating British Aerospace BAe Jetstream 31 and de Havilland Canada DHC-8-100 Dash 8 turboprops. Air New Orleans, a commuter airline, also served VPS during the 1980s with commuter aircraft such as the Beechcraft C99 turboprop and Piper prop aircraft. Destinations served by Air New Orleans from VPS included Birmingham, AL; Mobile, AL; New Orleans, LA; Orlando, FL; Panama City, FL; Pensacola, FL and Tampa, FL.[9]

1986–1987: On October 1, 1986, Northwest Airlines completed its merger with Republic Airlines. Northwest flew only one route from VPS: nonstop to Memphis, a Northwest hub which was also a former Republic and Southern Airways hub. By September 1987 Northwest had four non-stops a day to Memphis with stretched McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 and DC-9-50s.[10] Later Northwest would reduce its schedule from VPS to three daily DC-9s nonstop to Memphis.[11] No other airline flew jets into VPS until Valujet/Airtran appeared in the 1990s.

1998: AirTran Airways was serving the airport at this time with jet service. According to the August 1, 1998 AirTran system timetable, two nonstop flights a day were operated to Atlanta with direct, one stop service once a day to Washington, D.C. Dulles Airport. AirTran operated McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 jetliners into VPS.[9] However, by the end of 2001, AirTran had ceased all service into the airport after commencing service to Pensacola.[9]

November 2004: The current Northwest Florida Regional Airport opened its doors following an expansion with more parking, a larger aircraft parking apron, a second parallel taxiway, landscaping and a new 110,000 sq ft (10,000 m2) passenger terminal.

January 2010: Delta Air Lines completed its merger with Northwest Airlines on January 31, 2010. Delta then scaled back the Northwest hub operation in Memphis, and service between VPS and MEM was discontinued in favor of nonstop flights to Delta's hub in Atlanta.

2011: Vision Airlines began a small scheduled passenger hub operation at VPS with flights to Asheville, NC; Atlanta, GA; Baton Rouge, LA; Columbia, SC; Fort Lauderdale, FL; Fort Myers, FL; Greenville/Spartanburg, SC; Huntsville, AL; Knoxville, TN; Lafayette, LA; Las Vegas, NV; Little Rock, AR; Louisville, KY; Sanford/Orlando, FL; Savannah, GA; Shreveport, LA; St. Louis, MO; and St. Petersburg, FL. Vision flew Boeing 737 jetliners and Dornier 328 turboprops.[12] Vision later ended all flights at the airport and shut down its VPS hub.

February 17, 2015: Northwest Florida Regional Airport changed its name to Destin–Fort Walton Beach Airport on a 3–2 vote.

March 2016 : GLO Airlines began less than daily, seasonal service from VPS to Little Rock (LIT) and New Orleans (MSY) using 30-seat Saab 340B turboprop aircraft. GLO has since ceased all flights and is no longer in business.

May/June 2016: Allegiant Air began scheduled service to VPS from Cincinnati (CVG), Ft Lauderdale (FLL), Oklahoma City (OKC), Knoxville (TYS), Memphis (MEM) and St Louis/Belleville (BLV) flying Airbus A319, A320, and McDonnell Douglas MD-80 mainline jet aircraft. The Destin–Fort Walton Beach Airport became a focus city for the airline at this time.

September 2016: Contour Airlines began flying less than daily, seasonal service from Bowling Green, KY (BWG) to VPS using 30-seat British Aerospace BAe Jetstream 41 turboprop aircraft.

January 2017: Allegiant Air announced a major expansion with a new base of operations to be located on the airport with a total of eighteen (18) domestic destinations to be served nonstop on seasonal basis with mainline jet aircraft by June 2017 with most of the planned new service to begin in May 2017.[13]

May 2019: Silver Airways began daily service to Orlando, FL (MCO) from VPS using a 34-seat Saab 340 turboprop aircraft.[14] Silver stopped serving VPS in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

May 6, 2021, Southwest Airlines began service to VPS with flights to Dallas (DAL), Nashville (BNA), Baltimore/Washington (BWI) and Chicago/Midway (MDW).


Gates at VPS

Destin–Fort Walton Beach Airport and Eglin AFB covers 6,500 acres (2,630 ha) and share two runways: 12/30 is 11,987 ft × 300 ft (3,654 m × 91 m) asphalt/concrete and 01/19 is 10,001 ft × 300 ft (3,048 m × 91 m) asphalt.[2]


The airport has a 116,000 sq ft (10,800 m2) passenger terminal with five second-level gates with passenger jet ways and three ground-level commuter gates with passenger jet ways.

The two-level terminal opened in November 2004. The old terminal building was demolished soon after. The terminal has areas for ticketing and baggage claim and upper and lower courses with gates. The first level has Gates A1, A2, and A3 and waiting areas and a concession area. The second-level concourse has Gates B1, B2, B3, B4, B5 and B6. B3 is rarely used due to a lack of flights during the slow season. B5 is rarely used due to a lack of a jetway. Passengers have to descend a narrow stairwell and isn't very conducive to safe and speedy boarding of the aircraft. The second-level concourse also has a restaurant and concession areas. The terminal was designed to allow future expansion. Terminal C is in the final stages of construction and is due to open sometime mid to late summer 2022. It will feature 2 restaurants and concession areas.

Ground transportation[edit]

Access to the terminal is off of State Road 85. Parking facilities are to the left, the terminal or loop is straight ahead and rental car return is to the right. The airport loop road has two pass-through lanes on the left and three arrival-departure lanes in front of the terminal. The loop road is a two-lane asphalt roadway about ¾ mile long. Short-term and long-term parking facilities are available. The parking facilities were improved in the early 2000s (decade) as part of the new terminal expansion. These were designed with the Transportation Security Administration's "300-foot rule" in mind, and satisfy the 300-foot (91 m) distance between parked vehicles and the terminal building.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Allegiant Air Baltimore, Belleville/St. Louis, Cincinnati, Fayetteville/Bentonville, Grand Rapids, Las Vegas,[15] Minneapolis/St. Paul,[15] Newark, Oklahoma City
Seasonal: Asheville, Austin, Bloomington/Normal, Boston, Clarksburg, Charlotte–Concord, Chicago–Midway, Columbus–Rickenbacker, Dayton, Des Moines, Evansville, Houston–Hobby, Huntington, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Knoxville, Lexington, Little Rock, Louisville, Memphis, Nashville, Newburgh,[13] Omaha, Peoria, Pittsburgh, Shreveport, Springfield/Branson, St. Cloud, Toledo, Tulsa, Wichita
American Airlines Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth
Seasonal: Chicago–O'Hare
American Eagle Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Washington–National
Seasonal: Austin, Chicago–O'Hare
Delta Air Lines Atlanta [18]
Delta Connection Seasonal: New York–LaGuardia [18]
Southwest Airlines Baltimore, Chicago–Midway, Dallas–Love, Kansas City, Nashville, St. Louis[19]
Seasonal: Austin


Top destinations[edit]

Busiest domestic routes from VPS
(August 2020 – July 2021)
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Atlanta, Georgia 155,040 Delta
2 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 130,830 American
3 Charlotte, North Carolina 105,880 American
4 Cincinnati, Ohio 41,000 Allegiant
5 Houston–Intercontinental, Texas 39,450 United
6 St. Louis–Belleville, Illinois 37,810 Allegiant
7 Nashville, Tennessee 21,530 Allegiant, Southwest
8 Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 19,830 American, United
9 Washington–National, D.C. 18,470 American
10 Dallas–Love, Texas 12,940 Southwest

Airline market share[edit]

Airline Market Share (February 2021 - January 2022)[22]
Rank Carrier Passengers Market


1 Allegiant 556,000 27.95%
2 Delta 378,000 19.03%
3 Southwest 271,000 13.62%
4 American 250,000 12.56%
5 PSA 174,000 8.76%
Others 360,000 18.09%


  1. ^ Tony Judnich (2018-02-14). "llegiant, VPS announce new base, new routes, new jobs". Northwest Florida Daily News. Gannett Co., Inc.
  2. ^ a b FAA Airport Form 5010 for VPS PDF, effective April 21, 2022.
  3. ^ "Airports to use when flying to Destin, Florida | Destin Florida".
  4. ^ January 7, 1958 Southern timetable
  5. ^ a b "Airline Timetable Images".
  6. ^ Fort Walton Beach, Florida, "Terminal Dedication Saturday", Playground Daily News, Friday 21 February 1975, Volume 30, Number 13, page 1A.
  7. ^, July 1, 1979 Republic timetable
  8. ^, July 1, 1978 Southern timetable
  9. ^ a b c d e "index".
  10. ^, September 9, 1987 Northwest timetable
  11. ^, April 1995 Official Airline Guide (OAG), North American edition
  12. ^ Press Releases
  13. ^ a b "Best Travel Deals, Cheap Flights, Hotel Discounts, Car Rentals and more". Allegiant Air.
  14. ^ "Article". Retrieved 2019-07-23.
  15. ^ a b "Allegiant Announces Major Service Expansion with 22 New Nonstop Routes | Allegiant Travel Company".
  16. ^ "Allegiant Interactive Route Map". Archived from the original on July 17, 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  17. ^ a b "Flight schedules and notifications". Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  18. ^ a b "FLIGHT SCHEDULES". Archived from the original on June 21, 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  19. ^ "Book Now: Southwest Airlines Service To Destin/Ft. Walton, Florida, And Bozeman, Montana, To Begin In May 2021 With One-Way Fares As Low As $39". Southwest Airlines.
  20. ^ "Check Flight Schedules". Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  21. ^ "Top 10 Destination Airports (U.S. Only, Passengers (000))". T-100 Domestic Market (US Carriers).
  22. ^ "OST_R | BTS | Transtats". Bureau of Transportation Statistics. United States Department of Transportation. Retrieved May 3, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

External links[edit]