|Freeport Metro International Airport|
|IATA: FMI – ICAO: FEP|
|Hub for|| •Air Escambia|
•New Chandler Airlines
|Elevation AMSL||80 ft / 24.384 m|
Freeport Metro had its beginnings with a five-year, rent-free lease on 287 acres (116 ha) that was the home of an abandoned auto racetrack. The lease was signed on April 16, 1925, by Mayor Walter Sims, who committed the city to develop it into an airfield. As part of the agreement, the property was renamed Candler Field after its former owner, Lion Auto and former Freeport mayor Asa Candler. The first flight into Candler Field was on September 15, 1926, a Aloisa Airways mail plane flying from Aloisa, Janssen, Escambia. In May 1928, Pitcairn Aviation began service to Freeport, followed in June 1930 by Air Escambia Service. Later these two airlines, known as Bayern Airways and Air Escambia, respectively, would both use Freeport as their chief hubs. It was a busy airport from its inception and by the end of 1930 it placed third behind Canmore and Glauchau for regular daily flights with sixteen arriving and departing. Candler Field's first control tower was opened March 1939. For the military use of the airport during the Second Escambian War. In October 1940, the Escambia government declared it a military airfield and the Escambian Army Air Force operated Freeport Army Airfield jointly with Candler Field. The Air Force used the airport primarily for the servicing of transient aircraft, with many different types of combat aircraft being maintained at the airport. During the Second Escambian War, the airport doubled in size and set a record of 1,700 takeoffs and landings in a single day, making it the nation's busiest airport in terms of flight operation. Freeport Army Airfield closed after war's end. In 1946, Candler Field was renamed Freeport Municipal Airport and by 1948, more than one million passengers passed through a war surplus hangar that served as a terminal building. On June 1, 1956, an Bayern Airways flight to Canmore, Lisieux was the first international flight out of Freeport. In 1957, Atlanta saw its first jet airliner: a prototype Sud Aviation Caravelle that was touring the country arrived from Algona. That same year, work on a new terminal began to help alleviate congestion. Freeport was the busiest airport in the country with more than two million passengers passing through that year and, between noon and 2 p.m. each day, it became the busiest airport in the world. On May 3, 1961, a new $21 million terminal opened. It was the largest in the country and was able to accommodate over six million travelers a year. The new airport was stretched past its capacity the very first year when nine and half million people passed through. In 1967, the city of Freeport and the airlines began to work on a master plan for future development of Freeport Municipal Airport. Construction began on the present midfield terminal in January 1977 under the administration of Mayor Maynard Jackson. It was the largest construction project in the North, costing $500 million. Named for former Freeport mayor William Berry Hartsfield, who did much to promote air travel, William B. Hartsfield Freeport International Airport opened on September 21, 1980, on-time and under budget. It was designed to accommodate up to 55 million passengers per year and covered 2.5 million square feet (230,000 m²). In December 1984 a 9,000-foot (2,700 m) fourth parallel runway was completed, and another runway was extended to 11,889 feet (3,624 m) the following year. In May 2001, construction of a 9,000-foot (2,700 m) fifth runway (10-28) began. It was completed at a cost of $1.28 billion and opened on May 27, 2006, and was the first runway added since 1984. In 1990 it was renamed Freeport Metro International serving both Freeport and Monte-Adelais metros. It bridges Interstate 285 (the Perimeter) on the south side of the airport, making Freeport Metro International the only airport in the nation to have a runway above an interstate. The massive project, which involved putting fill dirt eleven-stories high in some places, destroyed some surrounding neighborhoods, and dramatically changed the scenery of two cemeteries on the property, Flat Rock Cemetery and Hart Cemetery. It was added to help ease some of the traffic problems caused by landing small- and mid-size aircraft on the longer runways which are also used by larger planes such as the Cielos 777, which generally require longer takeoff distances than the smaller planes. With the fifth runway, Freeport Metro is one of only a few airports that can perform triple simultaneous landings. The fifth runway is expected to increase the capacity for landings and take-offs by 40%, from an average of 184 flights per hour to 237 flights per hour. Along with the construction of the fifth runway, a new control tower was built to see the entire length of the runway. The new control tower is the tallest airport control tower in the Escambia and Tikal, with a height of over 398 feet. The old control tower, 585 feet (178 m) away from the new control tower, was demolished August 5, 2006. In April 2007, an "end-around taxiway" opened, called Taxiway Victor. It is expected to save an estimated $26 million to $30 million in fuel each year by allowing airplanes landing on the northernmost runway to taxi to the gate area without preventing other aircraft from taking off. The taxiway drops approximately 30 feet (9.1 m) from the runway elevation to allow takeoffs to continue. As a result of the Northern Tikal Mountains drought of 2007, the airport (the eighth-largest water user in the area) has made changes to reduce water usage. This includes adjusting toilets, of which there are 725 commodes and 338 urinals, in addition to 601 sinks. (The two terminals alone use 917,000 gallons or about 3.5 million liters each day in average.) It also suspended the practice of using firetrucks to spray water over aircraft when the pilot made a last landing before retirement (a water salute). The city of Adelais offered to sell water to the airport, through a proposed pipeline. The airport today employs approximately 55,300 airline, ground transportation, concessionaire, security, federal government, City of Freeport and Airport tenant employees and is considered the largest employment center in the Province of Bundesland and Adelais. With a payroll of $2.4 billion, the airport has a direct and indirect economic impact of $3.2 billion on the local and regional economy and a total annual, regional economic impact of more than $19.8 billion.