Officials Want New Airport to be “aerotropolis”

by July 21, 2008 • 6 comments

As reported by

Panama City-Bay County International Airport officials want the new $330 million facility to be an “aerotropolis” that draws international flights and business to West Bay.

To meet that goal, airport leaders are in discussions with several international carriers and have hired John Kasarda, a scholar, author and the man who coined the term “aerotropolis.”

Airport Executive Director Randy Curtis said airport officials are in talks with several airlines in Canada and England. He described the discussions as ongoing but declined to name the airlines.

Bill Cramer, the vice chairman of the Airport Authority, confirmed the discussions but also declined to name names.

“They’re not willing to go on the record,” Cramer said of the airlines.

However, he added the airport’s new hire will be instrumental in bringing in those international flights and other businesses.

“I don’t think it’s out of reach,” Cramer said. The area’s port, rail system and upgrades to highways will attract carriers that don’t service the existing airport, he added.

“We’re strategically placed to be a player in the international freight business,” Cramer said. “It’s not just about passenger traffic. That’s a big part of it, obviously. But it’s about maximizing economic benefits of this new airport.”

Earlier this week, the authority agreed to pay a $5,000 monthly retainer and all travel expenses for Kasarda. Under the terms of the one-year deal, Kasarda will work for up to 16 days and make presentations to the media and public.

The presentations would show “the new Panama City-Bay County International Airport and the surrounding area represent the best way forward for Northwest Florida, both economically and environmentally,” according to information provided by the authority.

Kasarda will collect $2,900 a day for any days worked over 16 each month.

He also is tasked with professionally promoting and marketing the new airport in conference presentations around the world and in airport-related publications. Kasarda also will “synergize the new airport with surrounding development to increase air passenger and cargo,” “create a new airport-centric destination model” and “improve the Panama City airport experience of its air passengers.”

According to his resume, Kasarda has done consulting work for airports in Memphis, Tenn., Washington, D.C., Kansas City and Detroit, as well as Brazil and India. In 2005, he was tapped to consult the U.S. Government Accountability Office on costs of adapting U.S. airport infrastructure and facilities to meet the needs of the Airbus A380.

Kasarda was out of the country Thursday and could not be reached for comment.

Kasarda is “the pre-eminent expert on economic development around airports,” Cramer said. “He’s most noted … for his development of the concept of the aerotropolis.”

On his Web site, Kasarda describes the aerotropolis as an engine for economic development that attracts aviation-linked businesses, including hotel, entertainment, retail and corporate headquarters.

An aerotropolis stretches for 20 miles outward from the airport and will be similar to a traditional metropolis, Kasarda wrote.

“Although most aerotropolis development to date has been spontaneous and haphazard – spawning congestion and environmental problems – in the future it can markedly improved through strategic infrastructure and urban planning,” Kasarda wrote.

“The real question is not whether aerotropolises will evolve around major airports (they surely will),” Kasarda wrote. “It’s whether they will form and grow in an intelligent manner, minimizing problems and maximizing returns to aerotropolis businesses and residents.”

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1 Bmor August 21, 2008 at 3:01 pm

You no longer can avoid the fact that the main national and international recognition will not be realized keeping the name Panama City Bay County
International Airport. This “sub-regionalizes” the
market. The folks in N.W. areas other than
Panama City will not come on board with their support as easily by leaving their name out of the mix. To justify $330 million spent, you cannot leave the main
name recognition on P.C and Bay County alone. For International and even National marketing draws, you need a name that promotes the State we live in, not
just the region. If this is a regional airport, then
$330 million is way too much. However, I know better.
This goes way beyond the needs of a city or even a region. Plans are much bigger than that, therefore we need a name that fits the plans. Might I start off the
bidding with the name ” Sunshine State International”.
Please, readers of this post, submit the name you think best would serve a “true” International Airport
to PCB Daily or vote for the one I submitted. This may start out as fun, but we could truly capture the interest of the Airport Authority who needs novice consultants with common sense like us to “advise”
them in matters such as this. Besides, I’ve heard it through the grapevine a “name change” is in the future anyway. We can save them a couple of hundred thousand dollars if they don’t have to hire another marketing firm to come up with what we can handle for them for free. We can truly make them (Airport Authority) an offer they can’t refuse.



2 Jason Koertge August 21, 2008 at 10:58 pm

I totally agree, and this is something that will have to be addressed.


3 jstew August 26, 2008 at 12:03 pm

I not only agree, I like your choice, “Sunshine State International.”


4 Heartburn Home Remedy April 15, 2009 at 7:15 am

I follow your blog for a long time and should tell you that your posts are always valuable to readers.


5 Terry April 15, 2009 at 6:10 pm

How about the Gulf of Mexico International Airport? Second suggestion might have the name “Panhandle” in it. Third might be something like North Western Florida International Airport.


6 Patty April 16, 2009 at 6:15 pm

“Emerald Coast International Airport” has a nice ring to it and also better describes the whole NW Fl/Gulf Coast area.