Destin–Fort Walton Beach Airport
|Airport type||Public / Military|
|Owner/Operator||United States Air Force|
|Serves||Fort Walton Beach, Destin|
|Location||within Eglin Air Force Base, adjacent to Valparaiso|
|Focus city for|
|Elevation AMSL||87 ft / 27 m|
Destin–Fort Walton Beach Airport (IATA: VPS, ICAO: KVPS, FAA LID: VPS) is an airport located within Eglin Air Force Base, on the municipal boundary of Valparaiso, and near Destin and Fort Walton Beach in Okaloosa County, Florida. No private aircraft are allowed, so Destin Executive Airport is used instead for non-commercial operations by general aviation and business aircraft. The airport was previously named Northwest Florida Regional Airport until February 17, 2015 and Okaloosa Regional Airport until September 2008.
Destin–Fort Walton Beach Airport is served by the regional airline affiliates of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines which fly nonstop regional jet service to their respective hubs in the southern and eastern United States. Delta Air Lines also operates mainline jet service to its hub in Atlanta (ATL), while Allegiant Air flies mainline jets nonstop to MidAmerica St. Louis Airport (BLV) located near Belleville, IL and also nonstop to its midwest base in Cincinnati (CVG) as well as nonstop to its company headquarters in Las Vegas, NV.
In early 2017, Allegiant Air announced a major expansion at the airport as a new base of operations for this "low-cost" airline with a total of 18 domestic destinations to be served nonstop from the Destin–Fort Walton Beach Airport on a seasonal basis with mainline jet aircraft such as the Airbus A319 by June 2017. According to a press release issued by Allegiant Air, Chief Operating Officer Jude Bricker stated, "Our presence in Florida continues to grow as we announce our largest expansion into a Florida destination in the company's history. A new base in Destin/Fort Walton Beach will allow us to better serve travelers...". In May 2018, Allegiant Air established a full-time, year-round base there, serving 22 cities with direct service on Airbus A320 aircraft.
In 2008 the FAA recorded over 373,808 enplanements at the airport.
In 1957, The Okaloosa County Air Terminal opened on Eglin Air Force Base in building 89 with 3 personnel (Airport Manager, Security and Admin Support). Southern Airways was the only passenger airline, with Douglas DC-3s direct to Atlanta via several stops. Passengers entered the base through the East Gate near Valparaiso, thus the airport code of VPS. Southern would later upgrade their service into the airport with 40-passenger Martin 404 propliners before initiating the first scheduled passenger jet flights at VPS.
1968: According to the September 3, 1968, Southern Airways system timetable, the airline was operating daily nonstop DC-9-10 jet service to Atlanta and New Orleans with direct, no change of plane DC-9 jet flights twice a day to New York City LaGuardia Airport and Washington D.C. Dulles Airport via intermediate stops in Dothan, AL and Columbus, GA.
February 1975: The new James E. Plew Terminal Building of the Okaloosa Air Terminal, on State Road 85, opened in mid-February 1975, with dedication on 22 February. Representative Bob Sikes and Southern Airways President Frank Hulse were some of the speakers. The 32,000 sq ft (3,000 m2) facility cost $1.7 million. Federal grants totaled $472,000, state $80,000, Okaloosa County bond sale $1.1 million, and Southern Airways $190,000. First year enplaned passengers totaled 97,000 with Southern Airways as the sole airline serving VPS with 12 departing flights daily.
1977: South Central Air Transport (SCAT), a commuter air carrier, was serving the airport with flights to New Orleans, LA, Mobile, AL, Montgomery, AL and Panama City, FL flown with Handley Page Jetstream propjets.
1979: On July 1, 1979 Southern Airways merged with North Central Airlines to form Republic Airlines. In July 1979 Republic flew Douglas DC-9-10 and McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 jets nonstop from VPS to Atlanta, GA; Dothan, AL; Mobile, AL; New Orleans, LA; Orlando, FL and Tallahassee, FL. Republic also operated direct DC-9 jet service to Baton Rouge, LA; Chicago, IL (O'Hare Airport), Fort Lauderdale, FL; Memphis, TN; Monroe, LA; New York (LaGuardia Airport) and Washington D.C. (Dulles Airport). Prior to the merger Southern flew all of these nonstop and direct DC-9 routes as well and also operated direct DC-9 jet service to Birmingham, AL; Miami, FL and Nashville, TN.
1980s: At the beginning of the 1980s, only Republic Airlines was operating nonstop service between VPS and Atlanta. Republic was operating DC-9-10, DC-9-30 and DC-9-50 jets on the route. As the decade progressed, Delta Air Lines and Eastern Air Lines both added nonstop service between the airport and Atlanta via their respective regional airline code sharing partners, Delta Connection and Eastern Metro Express, both of which operated turboprop aircraft into VPS. The Delta Connection service was flown by Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA) operating de Havilland Canada DHC-7 Dash 7 and Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia turboprops. The Eastern Metro Express service was flown by Metro Airlines operating British Aerospace BAe Jetstream 31 and de Havilland Canada DHC-8-100 Dash 8 turboprops. Air New Orleans, a commuter airline, also served VPS during the 1980s with commuter aircraft such as the Beechcraft C99 turboprop and Piper prop aircraft. Destinations served by Air New Orleans from VPS included Birmingham, AL; Mobile, AL; New Orleans, LA; Orlando, FL; Panama City, FL; Pensacola, FL and Tampa, FL.
1986–1987: On October 1, 1986, Northwest Airlines completed its merger with Republic Airlines. Northwest flew only one route from VPS: nonstop to Memphis, a Northwest hub which was also a former Republic and Southern Airways hub. By September 1987 Northwest had four non-stops a day to Memphis with stretched McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 and DC-9-50s. Later Northwest would reduce its schedule from VPS to three daily DC-9s nonstop to Memphis. No other airline flew jets into VPS until Valujet/Airtran appeared in the 1990s.
1998: AirTran Airways was serving the airport at this time with jet service. According to the August 1, 1998 AirTran system timetable, two nonstop flights a day were operated to Atlanta with direct, one stop service once a day to Washington, D.C. Dulles Airport. AirTran operated McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 jetliners into VPS. However, by the end of 2001, AirTran had ceased all service into the airport after commencing service to Pensacola.
November 2004: The current Northwest Florida Regional Airport opened its doors following an expansion with more parking, a larger aircraft parking apron, a second parallel taxiway, landscaping and a new 110,000 sq ft (10,000 m2) passenger terminal.
January 2008: Ground was broken for the Consolidated Rental Car Service Facility located on 22 acres (89,000 m2) east of the airport. This facility will have offices for five rental car companies and rental car service facilities with hydraulic lifts, automated car washes, gas pumps and vacuum islands and a consolidated fuel farm for aviation and unleaded gasoline. A cargo facility and new offices for airport maintenance will be built to the east of the terminal.
May 2009: The Consolidated Rental Car Service Facility opened on a new 22-acre (89,000 m2) leasehold just east of the main terminal. This $14 million project came in on time and under budget and was funded with rental car user fees.
January 2010: Delta Air Lines completed its merger with Northwest Airlines on January 31, 2010. Delta then scaled back the Northwest hub operation in Memphis, and service between VPS and MEM was discontinued in favor of nonstop flights to Delta's hub in Atlanta.
2011: Vision Airlines began a small scheduled passenger hub operation at VPS with flights to Asheville, NC; Atlanta, GA; Baton Rouge, LA; Columbia, SC; Fort Lauderdale, FL; Fort Myers, FL; Greenville/Spartanburg, SC; Huntsville, AL; Knoxville, TN; Lafayette, LA; Las Vegas, NV; Little Rock, AR; Louisville, KY; Sanford/Orlando, FL; Savannah, GA; Shreveport, LA; St. Louis, MO; and St. Petersburg, FL. Vision flew Boeing 737 jetliners and Dornier 328 turboprops. Vision later ended all flights at the airport and shut down its VPS hub.
February 17, 2015: Northwest Florida Regional Airport changed its name to Destin–Fort Walton Beach Airport on a 3–2 vote.
March 2016 : GLO Airlines began less than daily, seasonal service from VPS to Little Rock (LIT) and New Orleans (MSY) using 30-seat Saab 340B turboprop aircraft. GLO has since ceased all flights and is no longer in business.
May/June 2016: Allegiant Air began scheduled service to VPS from Cincinnati (CVG), Ft Lauderdale (FLL), Oklahoma City (OKC), Knoxville (TYS), Memphis (MEM) and St Louis/Belleville (BLV) flying Airbus A319, A320, and McDonnell Douglas MD-80 mainline jet aircraft. The Destin–Fort Walton Beach Airport became a focus city for the airline at this time.
January 2017: Allegiant Air announced a major expansion with a new base of operations to be located on the airport with a total of eighteen (18) domestic destinations to be served nonstop on seasonal basis with mainline jet aircraft by June 2017 with most of the planned new service to begin in May 2017.
Destin–Fort Walton Beach Airport and Eglin AFB share two runways: 12/30 is 11,987 x 300 ft (3,654 x 91 m) asphalt/concrete and 1/19 is 10,001 x 300 ft (3,048 x 91 m) asphalt. In the year ending March 31, 2006 the airport had 126,060 aircraft operations, average 345 per day: 71% military, 19% airline, 8% general aviation and 2% air taxi.
The airport has a 116,000 ft² passenger terminal with five second-level gates with passenger jet ways and three ground-level commuter gates with passenger jet ways.
The terminal is a two-level, 116,000 square foot facility opened in November 2004. The old terminal building was demolished soon after. The terminal has areas for ticketing and baggage claim and upper and lower courses with gates. The first level has Gates A1, A2, and A3 and waiting areas and concessions. The second-level concourse has Gates B1, B2, and B3 and a restaurant and concession areas. The terminal was designed to allow future expansion. The Northwest Florida Regional Airport Master Plan Update says a project to extend the concourse 120 feet and add three gates is under consideration (2010).
Access to the terminal is off of State Road 85. Parking facilities are to the left, the terminal or loop is straight ahead and rental car return is to the right. The airport loop road has two pass-through lanes on the left and three arrival-departure lanes in front of the terminal. The loop road is a two-lane asphalt roadway about ¾ mile long. Short-term and long-term parking facilities are available. The parking facilities were improved in the early 2000s (decade) as part of the new terminal expansion. These were designed with the Transportation Security Administration's "300-foot rule" in mind, and satisfy the 300-foot distance between parked vehicles and the terminal building.
Okaloosa County owns and operates the airport terminal, which is on 131 acres of Eglin AFB property that is leased from the U.S. Department of the Air Force. The property is leased until 2031 and limits aircraft operations at 84 per day. It is unique in that the county staffs the airport, yet it leases the property from the USAF. Okaloosa County Commission serves as a policy board and hires the airport staff.
The current Director of Airports is Tracy Stage, A.A.E.
Airlines and destinations
Delta Air Lines currently flies mainline jets into the airport with Airbus A319, Boeing 717 and McDonnell Douglas MD-88 jetliners. Delta Connection flies Canadair CRJ-200s and Canadair CRJ-700s from VPS as well. In May 2016, Allegiant Air began service to the airport with Airbus A319, A320 and McDonnell Douglas MD-80 mainline jet aircraft. Regional airlines serving the airport operate Canadair CRJ or Embraer ERJ regional jets. As a result of the American Airlines/US Airways merger, nonstop service between VPS and Reagan National in Washington, D.C. (DCA) was discontinued in early 2014 and then resumed in 2016 only to be discontinued once again. American Eagle now operates this Washington D.C. service on a seasonal basis. United Express flies daily regional jet service between VPS and Houston (IAH). American Eagle currently serves Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Charlotte (CLT) and has discussed possibly starting nonstop service to Chicago (ORD) while American operates mainline jet service between the airport and DFW on a seasonal basis. Regional air carrier Silver Airways operates Saab 340 turboprop aircraft while charter airlines Swift Air and Miami Air fly Boeing 737 jetliners.
|2||Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas||127,550||American|
|3||Charlotte, North Carolina||76,480||American|
|6||St. Louis–Belleville, Illinois||31,740||Allegiant|
|8||Oklahoma City, Oklahoma||16,240||Allegiant|
|9||Newark, New Jersey||12,310||Allegiant|
|10||Kansas City, Missouri||11,490||Allegiant|
- FAA Airport Master Record for VPS ( PDF), effective 2008-07-31.
- http://www.allegiantair.com, Press Releases
- "Commercial Service Airports(Primary and Non-primary), Calendar Year 2008" (PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. December 17, 2009. Retrieved May 15, 2011.
Rank 137; identified as "Eglin AFB"
- timetableimages.com, January 7, 1958 Southern timetable
- http://www.timetableimages.com, Sept. 3, 1968 Southern Airways system timetable
- Fort Walton Beach, Florida, "Terminal Dedication Saturday", Playground Daily News, Friday 21 February 1975, Volume 30, Number 13, page 1A.
- http://www.timetableimages.com, May 15, 1977 South Central Air Transport (SCAT) timetable
- departedflights.com, July 1, 1979 Republic timetable
- departedflights.com, July 1, 1978 Southern timetable
- http://www.departedflights.com; April 1, 1981 Official Airline Guide (OAG), ATL-VPS flight schedules
- http://www.departedflights.com; Feb. 15, 1989 & Dec. 15, 1989 editions, Official Airline Guide (OAG), ATL-VPS flight schedules
- http://www.departedflights.com; May 1, 1982 & Jan. 1, 1986 Air New Orleans system timetable route maps
- departedflights.com, September 9, 1987 Northwest timetable
- departedflights.com, April 1995 Official Airline Guide (OAG), North American edition
- http://www.departedflights.com; Aug. 1, 1998 AirTran system timetable
- http://www.departedflights.com; Nov. 15, 2001 AirTran system timetable route map
- http://www.visionairlines.com, Press Releases
- "Article". www.silverairways.com. Retrieved 2019-07-23.
- Delta Air Lines June 2013 timetable
- Destin - Fort Walton Beach Airport, official site
- Eglin Air Force Base, official site
- Northwest Florida Regional Airport Shuttle Service., Ground Transportation to VPS
- (PDF), effective August 15, 2019
- FAA Terminal Procedures for VPS, effective August 15, 2019
- Resources for this airport:
- Northwest Florida Regional Airport Shuttle Service., Ground Transportation Shuttles