Palm Beach International Airport
|Owner||Palm Beach County|
|Operator||Palm Beach County Department of Airports|
|Location||unincorporated Palm Beach County, adjacent to West Palm Beach|
|Elevation AMSL||19 ft / 6 m|
Source: Federal Aviation Administration; www.pbia.org
Palm Beach International Airport (IATA: PBI, ICAO: KPBI, FAA LID: PBI) is a public airport in Palm Beach County, Florida, west of the city of West Palm Beach, Florida. It is the primary airport for West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Wellington, Palm Beach, and the surrounding area. It is also one of three major airports serving the Miami metropolitan area. The airport is operated by Palm Beach County's Department of Airports. Road access to the airport is direct from I-95, Southern Boulevard, and Congress Avenue. The airport is bordered on the west by Military Trail.
Palm Beach International Airport began operations in 1936 as Morrison Field. Morrison Field was named in honor of Grace Morrison, a key participant in the planning and organization of the airfield. The first flight departing the field was a New York bound Eastern Air Lines DC-2 in 1936. The airport was dedicated on December 19, 1936.
In 1937 the airport expanded beyond an airstrip and an administration building when the Palm Beach Aero Corporation obtained a lease, built hangars and the first terminal on the south side of the airport. The new terminal was known as the Eastern Air Lines Terminal.
The field was used by the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor Morrison Field was used for training and later as a staging base for the Allied invasion of France, with numerous aircraft departing Morrison en route to the United Kingdom to take part in the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Morrison Field was a stopover for flights to and from India, via Brazil and West Africa.
The airport was again used by the U.S. Air Force in 1951 and renamed Palm Beach Air Force Base, under the control of the Military Air Transport Service (MATS). USAF operations occupied the north half of the airfield while civil operations and the airline terminal used the south half. MATS used the base for training with the host unit being the 1707th Air Transport Wing (Heavy), and its 1740th Heavy Transport Training Unit. The 1707 ATW was known as the "University of MATS", becoming the primary USAF training unit for all Air Force personnel supporting and flying heavy transport aircraft. These included C-124 Globemaster II, C-118 Liftmaster, C-97 Stratofreighter, and C-54 Skymaster maintenance training along with aircrew and transition pilot training. Nearly 23,000 airmen trained at Palm Beach AFB during the Korean War.
After several years of Palm Beach County fighting the Air Force presence in West Palm Beach, the Air Force started to close down operations there. The 1707 ATW was inactivated on June 30, 1959 and reassigned to Tinker AFB, Oklahoma. With the wing's departure, Palm Beach County took over airfield operations. The Air Force retained a small presence at the base with the 9th Weather Group becoming the main operational unit at Palm Beach AFB, performing hurricane and weather research for the Air Weather Service. The Air Photographic and Charting Service (APCS) moved its 1370th Photo-Mapping Wing to the base, performing geodetic survey flights. The Air Force finally closed Palm Beach AFB in 1962 and all property was conveyed to Palm Beach International Airport the same year.
Delta Air Lines began scheduled flights in 1959 and Capital Airlines in 1960. The first turbine-powered flights were Eastern Airlines Lockheed L-188 Electras in 1959, and Eastern DC-8 nonstops to Idlewild started in December 1960.
Air Force One was a frequent visitor to PBI during John F. Kennedy's presidency in the early 1960s. Local voters defeated a proposal to relocate the airport around this time, instead choosing to expand the existing facilities. In October 1966 an eight-gate Main Terminal opened on the northeast side of the airport; in 1974 Delta Air Lines moved into its own six-gate terminal with the airport's first jetways. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) built a new Air Traffic Control Tower on the south side of the airport in this period.
By the mid-1970s, the airport's dominant carriers were Delta, Eastern and National. Eastern operated the airport's only widebody service at the time, daily L-1011s to New York JFK and Newark. By 1979, National operated daily DC-10 service to JFK, LaGuardia and Miami, while Eastern operated L-1011s to Atlanta and Delta operated L-1011s to Tampa. By 1985, eight widebodies a day flew between PBI and the three New York airports.
The 25-gate David McCampbell Terminal, named for a World War II naval flying ace, was dedicated in 1988. In 2003 the terminal was voted among the finest in the nation by readers of Conde Nast Traveler Magazine. In that year a new landscaped I-95 interchange was built to decrease traffic on Southern Boulevard (US 98) extending Turnage Boulevard (the road around the perimeter of the concourse).
Competition from rapidly expanding Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport cut growth at the airport in the 1990s. The 2001 recession and the September 11 terrorist attacks further inhibited growth, but development in South Florida since 2002 has finally led to a surge of passenger traffic at the airport. In addition, discount carriers such as JetBlue and Southwest Airlines began service to PBI. In 2006 the county embarked on an interim expansion program by breaking ground on a 7-story parking garage and the addition of 3 gates in Concourse C. Long range expansions include gates at Concourse B and the eventual construction of a new 14 gate Concourse D to be extended east from the present terminal.
Following the 2016 election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, Air Force One again became a frequent visitor to PBI, typically parking on the south side of the airport near Southern Boulevard while Trump visited his nearby Mar-a-Lago estate. Until 2017, a line of school buses was used as a temporary barrier between the aircraft and onlookers. Palm Beach County stated that it would erect a more permanent barrier system in mid-2017, but the school buses were still in use as of November.
Palm Beach International Airport covers 2,120 acres (858 ha) and has three runways:
The airport's runway designations were changed by the FAA to their current configuration on December 17, 2009. Previously, they had been 9L-27R, 9R-27L, and 1331.
As of 2018, Concourse A houses Bahamasair and Silver Airways. Concourse B houses Air Canada, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, and United Airlines. Concourse C holds Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue, and Spirit Airlines.
A new 240-foot (73 m) Airport Traffic Control tower is active on the north side of the airport (west of concourse A, off Belvedere Rd.) along with a single-story, 9,000-square-foot (840 m2) ATBM Base Building. The current tower lies on the southern side of the airport.
The Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Aviation Battalion is located between runways at PBI. The fire station which is located near the center of the airport grounds, is home to 13 pieces of specialized fire fighting equipment.
These apparatus include:
The Trauma Hawk Station, which is located at the south west corner of the airport, Palm Beach County Fire Rescue has two Sikorsky S-76C helos. The department partners with the Palm Beach County Health Care District to operate the Trauma Hawk Aero-Medical Program. The Trauma Hawk program, which was established in November 1990, replaced the use of Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office helicopters to medevac critically injured patients to area hospitals. air ambulances are identically equipped and can carry two patients each and up to four medical attendants if needed. Each helicopter is staffed with a pilot, a registered nurse (RN) and a paramedic. The nurses and paramedics are Palm Beach County Fire Rescue employees while the pilots are Health Care District employees.
|Air Canada||Seasonal: MontréalTrudeau, TorontoPearson|
|Allegiant Air||Asheville (begins November 25, 2019), CharlotteConcord (begins November 15, 2019), Cincinnati (begins November 25, 2019), Indianapolis (begins November 25, 2019), Knoxville (begins November 15, 2019), Pittsburgh (begins November 14, 2019)|
|American Airlines||Charlotte, ChicagoO'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Philadelphia, WashingtonNational|
|American Eagle||Seasonal: New YorkLaGuardia|
|Delta Air Lines|| Atlanta, Detroit, New YorkJFK, New YorkLaGuardia |
|Frontier Airlines|| Long Island/Islip, Raleigh/Durham, Trenton|
Seasonal: Cleveland, ColumbusGlenn, Newark (begins December 10, 2019), Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis
|JetBlue||Boston, Hartford, Newark, New YorkJFK, New YorkLaGuardia, Providence, WashingtonNational, White Plains|
|Silver Airways||Key West, Marsh Harbour, Nassau, South Bimini|
|Southern Airways Express||Key West, Tampa|
|Southwest Airlines|| Atlanta, Baltimore, DallasLove, Long Island/Islip, New YorkLaGuardia|
Seasonal: ChicagoMidway, Hartford, Pittsburgh, Providence, St. Louis
|Spirit Airlines||Seasonal: Atlantic City, Boston, Detroit|
|United Airlines||ChicagoO'Hare, HoustonIntercontinental, Newark|
|United Express||WashingtonDulles (begins February 13, 2020)|
|UPS Airlines||Charlotte, Columbia (SC), Louisville, Miami, Orlando|
|Domestic destinations map|
West Palm Beach
|International Destinations map|
|1||Atlanta, Georgia||626,520||Delta, Southwest|
|2||Newark, New Jersey||419,900||JetBlue, United, Frontier|
|3||New YorkLa Guardia, New York||298,520||American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest|
|4||Boston, Massachusetts||246,620||Delta, JetBlue, Spirit|
|5||Charlotte, North Carolina||245,000||American|
|6||New YorkJFK, New York||242,490||Delta, JetBlue|
|7||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||162,840||American, Frontier|
|9||White Plains, New York||135,310||JetBlue|
|10||Islip, New York||126,110||Frontier, Southwest|
|Rank||Airline||Passengers||Percent of market share|
|2||Delta Air Lines||1,665,000||26.28%|
Palm Beach International Airport is near the West Palm Beach station (Virgin Trains USA) served by Virgin Trains USA (formerly Brightline) and the West Palm Beach train station served by Amtrak intercity trains and Tri-Rail commuter trains. The latter provides a shuttle bus service from the station to the airport, and is free for Tri-Rail customers.
In conjunction with the slated construction of a new ATC tower at PBIA, the Federal Aviation Administration intended to transfer all of PBIA's air traffic controllers whose assigned sector is between 5 and 40 miles (60 km) from the airport to a remote facility at Miami International Airport. Ground traffic controllers, and approach controllers whose sector is within 5 miles (8 km) of the runway would have remained at PBIA. The FAA cited the move as a cost-cutting measure, but critics say that it creates a risk to South Florida air traffic if the Miami facility is damaged in a hurricane, or terrorist attack. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association opposed the move. The remote facility at Miami International Airport houses air traffic controllers for Miami and Fort Lauderdale international airports.