ECP prioritizes parking before holidays

Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 8:07 PM CST
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport is addressing its parking situation as the holidays quickly approach.

“The covered lot is usually pretty full,” said James Rainey. “If you get here early enough you might get one.”

Time is something airport officials are urging passengers to take into consideration.

“We have open-flow parking available,” said ECP Deputy Executive Director Richard McConnell. “It’s the nonstandard parking that we have available. So we recommend that passengers who are coming to the terminal building to catch a flight come a minimum of 1.5 - 2 hours early.”

It’s a double-whammy for ECP right now. The airport is not only dealing with a busy travel season but also working on a $3.5 million parking lot expansion project.

“We’re going to be paving a new lot, establishing parking protocol, and putting in point-of-sale equipment so individuals and passengers can use credit cards to get in and out,” McConnell said.

That project is meant to meet the growing demand of passengers coming in and out of the airport. However, it could cause delays. McConnell said starting the project now is the best way to go.

“It’s got to do with a larger scale timeframe,” he said. “Obviously, it gets very difficult for us to do this type of project when we’re in our absolute peak season.”

However, airport officials said they are prepared to fix any issues that might come their way.

“We’ve taken steps to provide for shuttles back and forth between the terminal building,” McConnell said. “[We’ll have] lighted parking areas.”

Extra staff will also be on sight to assist. It’s all in an effort to make things a little less stressful.

Airport staff said the parking expansion project is expected to be completed by June 2023.