International flights may be going to and from the South Bend airport by the end of the year.
Two U.S. airlines have expressed interest in providing non-stop service from South Bend to places like Mexico and the Bahamas.
The airport plans to talk with other airlines in places like Canada to see if they too would be interested in one day flying out of South Bend.
Pretty soon the airport will have to change it's sign outside to South Bend International.
The airport needs to build two new facilities.
The general aviation area will be for corporate and privately owned planes andthe federal inspection station will handle commercial passengers.
The federal inspection station and the general aviation area are going to be in the same area between Delta Airlines and Allegiant Air. The executive director of the airport says they are going to have to add some square footage to make room for these new facilities."
Mike Daigle says, "Some of the space will have dual use and so that will save us a little bit of money on not having to build duplicate facilities."
He says the changes will cost several million dollars and it will be paid for by a combination of federal, state and airport funds.
International flights will park at gate A-9 and that area will be blocked off from the rest of the A-concourse when there are international flightsbut it can be opened back up so the gate can also be used for domestic flights.
The airport will have to build a walkway that goes from gate A-9 to the federal inspection area.
It's expected that international flights would be offered at South Bend two to three times a week at first.
South Bend, IN.-St. Joseph County Airport Authority Board President Tom Botkin announced today that South Bend Airport (SBN) is becoming South Bend International. The Airport team, in conjunction with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), is working to build two distinct facilities; a General Aviation Facility and a Federal Inspection Station. Both of these facilities are under design with construction expected to begin within a few months. The project will be paid for with a combination of federal, state and airport funds.
A review of travel patterns show that within a few short years, there could be in excess of 30,000 to 40,000 international travelers beginning and ending their trip from South Bend International. Initial conversations with airlines have resulted in expressed interest in serving South Bend to Mexico and the Bahamas. The economic impact of this additional new traffic could be in excess of $100 million dollars annually to the regional community.
"While we will continue to speak with airlines regarding domestic air service development, industry experts will tell you the growth is in international travel," said SBN Executive Director Mike Daigle. "This announcement has been over 18 months in the making and I'm thrilled to finally be able to share the good news with our community."
St. Joseph County Airport officials thank Governor Pence; Senator Donnelly; Congresswoman Walorski; Congressman Upton; State Senators Arnold, Broden, Zakas and Mishler; State Representative Niezgodski; County Board of Commissioners President Kostielney; County Commissioners Thomas and McClure; Mayors Buttigieg and Moore; as well as countless business leaders in our region for supporting the application to CBP.
Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners President Andy Kostielney, South Bend Deputy Mayor Mark Neal, Mishawaka Mayor David Wood and St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Rea all took part in the announcement that took place at the Airport this morning.
About South Bend International
South Bend International's three air carriers provide nonstop flights to nine cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Fort Myers/Punta Gorda, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Orlando/Sanford, Phoenix/Mesa, and Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg with connections world-wide.South Bend International's multi-modal terminal serves over one million air, rail and bus passengers each year.According to the 2012 Economic Impact Report from the Aviation Authority of Indiana, South Bend International's total annual economic impact on South Bend and surrounding communities was in excess of $1.7 billion.
For additional information, please refer towww.FlySBN.comor get social with SBN on Facebook (www.facebook.com/FlySBN) and Twitter (@SBNairport) and stay informed about the airport and the carriers that serve the Michiana region.