Author: Marisa Montgomery

Gulf Shores Airport Authority Executes Agreement with VINCI Airports/TBI Airport Management for New Airline Terminal at Gulf Shores International Airport.

September 7, 2022

The Gulf Shores Airport Authority signed an agreement with TBI/VINCI Airports for construction of a new commercial air terminal at Gulf Shores International Airport, Gulf Shores, Alabama.  VINCI is the leading private airport owner/ developer in the world.  TBI/VINCI will build, manage, and operate the new facility with the Authority maintaining operational control of the airport.  TBI/VINCI and the Authority will jointly market for new entrants to service one of the largest leisure market sites on the Gulf Coast with over 8,000,000 visitors annually.

The project involves a two-phased approach with an estimated $3.7 M initial investment in interim facilities that will be in operation by March 1 of 2023.  Design work will begin on the permanent structure once passenger enplanements  reach 75,000 with construction to begin at 125,000 enplanements.   Scott Fuller, Airport Director stated, “ with the level of interest and existing demand, we don’t plan to be in the interim for long.  The only reason to address interim facilities is to accommodate traffic now and not wait for a two-year design and construction project to be completed.” “We have already passed on two projected startup requests for lack of adequate facilities” stated Vic Roberts, Chairman of the Gulf Shores Airport Authority.

The Authority was assisted in the solicitation and negotiation process by BJSA, Inc. of Cincinnati, Ohio.

For more information about Gulf Shores International Airport, please call the Gulf Shores Airport Authority at 251-967-3968.

Statement from Mayor Robert Craft regarding ALDOT’s decision on the Waterways Bridge Project

September 2, 2022

I am glad to learn that the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) has refused a proposal that would have placed the transportation fate of Alabama’s beaches in the hands of a foreign bridge company for the next 50 years. Thirteen months of negotiations between ALDOT and the toll bridge owners culminated in a proposal that would enforce a 50-year restriction on building any new, free, public bridge across the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) between State Highway 59 in Gulf Shores and State Highway 161 in Orange Beach. This 50-year restriction would remain regardless of future growth, traffic conditions, or any other justifiable need. Proponents of the toll bridge company’s plan have focused on their proposal to provide Baldwin County residents toll-free passes. However, any deal that would allow a foreign bridge company to control access and dictate the expansion of transportation infrastructure in any part of Alabama is a bad deal.

I am encouraged that ALDOT is planning to begin advertising to accept bids on its long-proposed Waterways Bridge project, which will provide a new, free route to and from Alabama’s beaches for everyone. While some try to make this a “Gulf Shores project” or a Gulf Shores versus Orange Beach debate, it is not. This project was designed by ALDOT as their solution to traffic congestion on State Highway 59. The proposed bridge begins in Gulf Shores and lands in Orange Beach. The project has received overwhelming public support from local residents, tourism officials, hospital leaders, and elected officials, including Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon and me. Mayor Kennon and I even released a joint letter to the editor in 2018 which referenced this project as “our bridge to the future.” When constructed, the Waterways Bridge project will immediately improve traffic conditions on State Highway 59, provide an additional evacuation route off the island and create a foundation of new transportation infrastructure that is critical to accommodate the continued growth and success of Alabama’s beaches.

SEC-AAAE General Aviation Project of the Year


Scott Fuller,  Airport Director Gulf Shores International Airport          


New Air Traffic Control Tower



 Gulf Shores International Airport, Gulf Shores, Alabama



New construction of Air Traffic Control Towers (ATCTs) are highly specialized projects that are rarely seen. It’s estimated that this was the first ATCT project completed in the State of Alabama within the last 30 years. This new tower will provide superior factors of safety for the air and ground operations into and out of the Airport. By involving the local community in the design process, the final product incorporated  architectural elements of the area.


Vic Roberts, Chairman                                                     Airport Authority of the City of Gulf Shores, Alabama

Scott Fuller, Airport Director                                        Gulf Shores International Airport

Marisa Montgomery, Assistant Airport Director   Gulf Shores International Airport

Michael Cole, Project Manager                                      Barge Design Solutions, Inc.

Pete Deeks, Engineer                                                         AJT Engineering, Inc.

Ken Frady and Luke Larson, Designers                     AJT Engineering, Inc.

Craig Blackburn, Vice President                                   White-Spunner Construction, LLC

Adam Bryce, Superintendent                                          White-Spunner Construction, LLC              

Daniel Prickett, Branch Manager                                   InterTek-PSI Engineering, Inc.

John Cook, Project Manager                                            Audet Electric, Inc.



Final Design Completed 6-18-2022

Total Fee: $514,295

NTP issued for Construction 11-2-2020

ATCT Commissioning date 11-17-2021

Total Construction Cost: $5,248,954



This project was the first ATCT in the nation to use the new FAA alternate VISTA siting procedure using virtual reality modeling. The entire airport was modeled along with the proposed tower location at the proposed eye elevation. Air Traffic Controllers then used virtual reality goggles to ensure that all movement areas on the airport were visible from the proposed tower location.

The selected site was on a mowed vacant area allowing a CATEX environmental exclusion.

The building was designed around the controller’s needs, ergonomics as well as the communications systems necessary to control the airport traffic.  Carefully laid out cable and internal infrastructure passages and management allowed ease of installation and future access.  The controller cab consoles were meticulously designed for the user and the placement of the communications equipment.

The efficient design packs multiple functions into a 24 ft square footprint including stairs, elevator and space for office/training and equipment rooms.  The design has time proven details and shop drawings were carefully coordinated to permit a schedule friendly construction timetable resulting in less than 1% change orders.

A Rammed Aggregate Pier system was used in lieu of a deep foundation which was required to support the heavy small footprint building.  The more economical Geopiers allowed the foundation to be ready weeks earlier at lower cost when compared to a deep piling foundation.

The actual tower design utilized over a million pounds of very large precast panels that were installed on the foundation and then stacked on top of each other using panel interlock keyways and steel embed plates to secure each panel to each other. This was the most cost-effective manner of construction.  Other advantages include substantially shortened construction duration, very low maintenance, 30 year exterior finish using integral colored cement and the durability of concrete.  All 89 precast penetrations were planned out during design so that no field drilling was required.  All exterior metal including fasteners are high quality stainless steel or high tech finishes to withstand the corrosive marine environment.

Precast panels, laminated glazing, and careful detailing rates the building to withstand 174 mph hurricane force winds. One unique aspect of this tower was the vast amount sight glass and spandrel glass used to provide architectural enhancements.

This new tower conforms to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements for control towers, the International Building Code and local and State codes.

With new flight services, Gulf Shores looks to skies to bring tourists to Alabama beaches

Jack Edwards National Airport in Gulf Shores, Ala., on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2019. Plans are underway to construct an $8 million to $10 million terminal to welcome commercial air service within the next two years. (John Sharp/

People in and around the Gulf Shores area will soon be able to take flights to select airports in the Southeast thanks to carrier Ultimate Air Shuttle.

Jay Taffet, founder of Southeast Beach Express, told The Advocate that the airline was founded to provide quicker access to Alabama’s beaches. In 2018, nearly 6.6 million people visited the beaches and almost all of them drove there.

Only 7% came by air, according to Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism.

Beginning in June, the company will offer flights from Gulf Shores’ Jack Edwards Airport four days a week, with prices beginning at $245, according to their Facebook page.
From Gulf Shores, you’ll be able to travel to Atlanta after landing at Cobb County’s McCollum Airport, Nashville after landing at John C. Tune Airport and Baton Rouge after landing at Baton Rouge Metro Airport.
According to the company’s Facebook, here is the complete “South Beach Express” flight schedule which will operate every Thursday through Sunday:
  • Gulf Shores to Atlanta
    • Depart: 9:30 a.m. (CST)
    • Arrive: 11:35 a.m. (EST)
  • Atlanta to Gulf Shores
    • Depart: 12:20 p.m. (EST)
    • Arrive: 12:25 p.m. (CST)
  • Gulf Shores to Nashville
    • Depart: 1:10 p.m.
    • Arrive: 2:35 p.m.
  • Nashville to Gulf Shores
    • Depart: 3:20 p.m.
    • Arrive: 4:45 p.m.
  • Gulf Shores to Baton Rouge
    • Depart: 5:30 p.m.
    • Arrive: 6:20 p.m.
  • Baton Rouge to Gulf Shores
    • Depart: 7:05 p.m.
    • Arrive: 7:55 p.m.

This new service is just one of many that could be taking place at Gulf Shores’ airport in the future. The airport was one of three in Alabama to apply for a federal grant from the Department of Transportation in order to expand their commercial flight services.

Taffet told The Advocate that while the flights are set to end in late September, service could be extended beyond that time if there’s demand for it.

Public Notice Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact

CONSTRUCT AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL TOWER at Jack Edwards National Airport Gulf Shores, Alabama

Interested parties are hereby notified that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the construction of a new Air Traffic Control Tower at the Jack Edwards National Airport, located in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

The EA has been prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act.  The purpose of the EA and FONSI is to assess the effects on the human and natural environment associated with the Proposed Action.

The FONSI is the FAA’s finding that the Proposed Action will not have a significant effect on the human and natural environment associated with the land acquisition and proposed improvements.

The FONSI and Final EA are available for a 30-day informational public review at the following locations:

Jack Edwards National Airport
Terminal Building
3190 Airport Drive
Gulf Shores, AL 36542

Federal Aviation Administration
Airports District Office
100 West Cross Street, Suite B
Jackson, MS 39208

Gulf Shores Airport Authority Breaks Ground for New Air Traffic Control Tower Facility at Jack Edwards National Airport (JKA)

Today, the Airport Authority of Gulf Shores held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new air traffic control tower facility at Jack Edwards National Airport (JKA). The new tower was made possible through $6.13 million in grant funding from both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the “CARES ACT” secured by the joint efforts of Senator Richard Shelby and Congressman Bradley Byrne. JKA currently ranks as the second busiest airport in operations (landings and takeoffs) in Alabama and will rank in the top 40 of 256 Federal Contract Towers nationwide once the tower is in operation.

As a result of the “CARES ACT,” the participation in grant funding for the tower increased to 100 percent from the original 90 percent of grant funding and 10 percent of local funding from the Airport Authority. Chairman Vic Roberts of the Airport Authority stated, “The $700,000 in local Airport Authority funding set aside for the tower construction will now be reallocated to a future terminal project at JKA.”

Senator Shelby announced the grant as one of four for Alabama Airports earlier this week stating, “This funding is significant for the state and will increase economic development opportunities in these communities as well as improve safety at these airports.”

Congressman Byrne said, “Jack Edwards National Airport serves one of the fastest-growing regions of our state. The funds that the FAA has approved for this much-needed tower will enable the airport to take another step forward in servicing its customers and the Southwest Alabama economy. In years to come, the airport will play an increasingly vital role in the continued development of Baldwin County. I appreciate the FAA approving these funds, and I look forward to continuing to support the airport’s growth.”


“Jack Edwards National Airport serves the thriving business and tourism market in Gulf Shores, South Baldwin County and the communities along the Alabama Gulf Coast,” said Mayor Robert Craft. “This full-service airport is an outstanding asset creating jobs and diversification opportunities for new and existing businesses. JKA is vital to the development and continued economic growth of the area and provides a transportation hub for anyone traveling for business, recreation or relaxation.”

The project is slated to be completed by July 30, 2021, with FAA commissioning proposed for September 30, 2021.

The event included tours of an Elite Airways CRJ 700 and an announcement made by John Pearsall, CEO of Elite Airways, of the intent to begin providing the residents of Gulf Shores with scheduled service in early 2021 pending FAA and TSA approval.

Jack Edwards National Airport Open for Business

Gulf Shores / Orange Beach, Ala. – While operations have trended down this past week, the airport is open and fully operational.  FBO’s at Jack Edwards National are operating at normal hours with full staffing and providing full service as usual.  The airport continues to monitor coronavirus (COVID -019) and is in constant contact with federal, state and local officials to coordinate any necessary response.

Scott Fuller, Airport Manager, stated “all projects including the new Air Traffic Control facility are preceding along schedule and we do not expect any delays”.

Additionally, the airport has substantial parking space available for idled fleets up to B-737 design.

Interested parties should contact the Airport Authority at 1-251-967-3968.

Jack Edwards National Airport approved for Federal Contract Tower

Jack Edwards National Airport (JKA) was notified this week that the FAA has accepted the airport as a candidate for the Federal Contract Tower Program.  With this announcement JKA is now required to provide an acceptable facility within five years.  Several FAA offices remarked that JKA set a record for the highest benefit cost ratio ever seen in the program’s history at 4.18.  In English, this means that the benefits of the tower exceed the costs associated by a factor of 4.2.  A ratio of 1.0 is required to be eligible.


The Gulf Shores Airport Authority actually begin design of the new tower 8 months ago in anticipation of the announcement by approving a $500,000 contract for the design phase in March 2019.  This was followed by the application process with support from Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft and Council.


“Jack Edwards National Airport serves the thriving business and tourism market in Gulf Shores, South Baldwin County, and communities along the Alabama Gulf Coast,” Mayor Robert Craft said. “This full service airport is an outstanding asset creating jobs and diversification opportunities for new and existing businesses. Jack Edwards National Airport is vital to the development and continued economic growth of the area and provides a transportation hub for anyone traveling for business, recreation, and/or relaxation.”

JKA was able to facilitate FAA Air Traffic design and site selection reviews by volunteering to be a test case to allow the FAA to streamline its previous review method, which typically took six months.  JKA set a record of two days with what is now referred to as the “Jack Edwards” process.  Tower construction is slated to be complete toward the end of December of 2020 with commissioning in Jan-Feb 2021.


 Scott B. Fuller


Gulf Shores Fire Department runs live-fire exercise at Jack Edwards National Airport

Posted Tuesday, August 6, 2019 12:00 am
By Melanie LeCroy

If you saw smoke billowing from Jack Edwards National Airport last week, it wasn’t an airplane accident or building fire. Gulf Shores Fire Department hosted a live-fire training exercise with the assistance of the U.S. Navy’s mobile aircraft fire trainer. Orange Beach Fire Department also participated in the training.
The airport authority purchased a Rapid Response Vehicle and donated it to the city of Gulf Shores to meet the Federal Aviation Administration requirements for 139. The rapid response vehicle is equipped to handle aircraft-based emergencies. It features foam, and Federal Aviation Administration required dry chemicals.

“In the future, the Airport Authority plans to build an airport fire station,” said Scott Fuller, airport manager.

“There are a lot of operators that need fire protection on the airport in order to come in here. Without Gulf Shores Fire Department there are many businesses we would not be able to accommodate,” Fuller said.

The airport authority purchased a Rapid Response Vehicle and donated it to the city of Gulf Shores to meet the Federal Aviation Administration requirements for 139. The rapid response vehicle is equipped to handle aircraft-based emergencies. It features foam, and Federal Aviation Administration required dry chemicals.

“In the future, the Airport Authority plans to build an airport fire station,” said Scott Fuller, airport manager.

“There are a lot of operators that need fire protection on the airport in order to come in here. Without Gulf Shores Fire Department there are many businesses we would not be able to accommodate,” Fuller said.

Gulf Shores hopes to have control tower at airport by 2021

By  on July 31, 2019

Gulf Shores officials have filed the necessary paperwork seeking permission to build a control tower at Jack Edwards Airport, following the (FFA) Federal Aviation Administration’s lifting of a 10-year moratorium on new control towers at U.S. airports. The tower will help the city develop future passenger service at Jack Edwards. Mobile, Pensacola and Destin are currently the closest airports to Gulf Shores with towers.
Gulf Shores authorized a contract for $500,000 for engineering and design for a new tower in March. The plan is to complete FAA review and design in October and begin construction in 2020. The anticipated completion date is January of 2021, according to Jack Edwards Airport Authority Manager Scott Fuller.
Earlier this month, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby announced that 20 local airports throughout Alabama would receive more than $25.9 million in Federal Aviation Administration grants, including a discretionary grant to Jack Edwards Airport of $232,066.
“Jack Edwards National Airport is a vital part of Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and the surrounding communities, and this grant will enable valuable safety improvements that will yield benefits to area travelers for years to come,’’ said Congressman Bradley Byrne. “This grant award is a part of the FAA’s FY19 Airport Improvement Program (AIP). With this discretionary grant, Jack Edwards National Airport will receive a total of $403,470 to rehabilitate taxiway lighting.’’
“The FAA was looking for an airport volunteer to try out their new site selection review process. So, we volunteered and they are expediting our process. We should be ready for bid about the time we are approved,’’ Fuller said.
“The Tower will control the airspace above the airport and out to three miles in every direction. This will provide some semblance of control as our traffic at times resembles an airshow with aircraft going in all directions at all times,’’ he added.
The tower will also reduce peak hour operations by increasing the distance between aircraft in the pattern and the number of takeoffs and landings for proper separation distances. The tower will not allow for multiple use of multiple runways at the same time, which will reduce operational numbers somewhat, and aircraft will be required to report in and be given instructions on procedures and be alerted to other aircraft positions.
“This currently is a significant reason for the over 25,000 radio transmissions per month being made between pilots trying to locate each other,’’ Fuller said. “Some companies will not allow their executives to fly into uncontrolled airports.’’
Orange Beach City Councilman Jerry Johnson, who is also a member of the Gulf Shores Airport Authority Board, said the Authority Board has been pushing for a control tower at Jack Edwards for many years.
“If it wasn’t for Richard Shelby appropriating funds and the Authority pushing it to the level that it was we don’t feel like the program would have ever been given the funds,’’ he said.
“What we are going to be doing is bringing a hopper type carrier where you can fly from here to Nashville, here to Atlanta, here to maybe Houston or Dallas. It won’t be a commercial carrier coming it. We’re not that big. But we probably will have some that will be interested in providing those type services.’’