The Gainesville Regional Airport will rise to new heights with an expansion project on the horizon.
The 15,200-square-foot expansion will include the addition of two gates, between 16 and 28 restroom stalls and a larger food concession area.
The airport is about 70 percent through with the first phase of the expansion, which involves the underground utility work. This phase started in Fall 2018. Erin Porter, manager of marketing and public relations at Gainesville Regional Airport, said the second phase, the terminal expansion, is expected to begin in Fall 2019 and will take about 1.5 years.
The terminal will have a pet relief area available after passengers have gone through security. The terminal will also have a lactation lounge for mothers, a chapel/reflection room and a play area for children.
Porter wrote in an email the expansion is taking place because the community and airport are growing. The growth will only increase the need for additional flights and routes.
The project is expected to cost $15,957,488, Porter said.
It will be funded by federal and state grants.
These funds come from the Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement Program, Florida Department of Transportation grants, passenger facility charges and revenue from the Gainesville Alachua County Regional Airport Authority.
Passenger facility charges are fees that are included in the price of airplane tickets that go toward the maintenance of airports. PFCs are capped at $4.50 per ticket by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The Gainesville Alachua County Regional Airport Authority is currently competing for a Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement grant of over $7 million.
If the grant is not approved, the airport authority can reduce or defer parts of the expansion project.
City Commissioner David Arreola said it’s exciting to have growth at the airport since it has been a topic of discussion among the city commission for some time.
“We’ve always been trending in that direction,” Arreola said, “and it’s nice to see, you know, this kind of investment being made to grow the number of services. It’s going to be great for Gainesville.”