Airport plans holiday deadline

GULFPORT - The automobile juggling act at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport should end before Thanksgiving.

Airport officials expect work to be complete before the holiday crush, the biggest motivator they have.

"We're going to make it, regardless," Director of Planning Jim Foster said. "It's going to be tough, but we have to get it done."

The work will increase the paved parking spaces available from 724 to 1,100, with another 140 for employees. There will be unpaved overflow parking spaces for about another 340 cars.

Last November saw more cars in the airport's parking lot than ever before and demand remains high. The increase in business travel is the driving force in that reality.

There was a parking mirage of sorts at the airport Wednesday, with lots close to the terminal, which is undergoing its own expansion, closed while they are repaved and new lighting is installed.

The airport has opened unpaved parking east of the circular drive, which passes the terminal and surrounds the rental car parking and public parking. Contractors have also had to coordinate the opening and closing of lots and the movement of cars left behind from lot to lot.

Work continues in the terminal, as well. Hudson News moved its shop to its new location inside the security check points on Oct. 13.

It's caused a remarkable increase in business. According to airport officials, business Monday was 200 percent better than what it was on the same Monday last year.

They attribute the increase to passengers having security checkpoint delays behind them and not feeling pressured to enter the line before stopping to shop.