The finishing touches are being put on the new 17,500-square-foot Ocala International Airport terminal.
The state-of-the-art building is quite an upgrade for the city-owned facility, which is located about five miles west of Ocala at 750 SW 60th Avenue and operated by Director Matt Grow. The $6.1 million facility is consolidating a great many of the services at the airport, such as administration, a restaurant, offices for fixed-base operator Sheltair Aviation and rental car companies.
Funding for the new terminal came from a variety of sources, including the Florida Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration, the city and the partnership with Sheltair Aviation.
In April, former City Manager John Zobler told the Ocala Chamber and Economic Partnership of the importance of the airport to the local economy and how it has grown rapidly over the past 10 years. He cited fuel sold and operations – takeoffs and landings – during that time.
“OIA now sells more than 800,000 gallons of fuel a year,” Zobler said, adding that the facility hadn’t seen those levels since 2006.
Zobler said the facility also had broken records for landings and takeoffs.
“The airport has 101 hangars for rent. They have been at 100 percent occupancy for a year and there’s a long waiting list,” he said.
In December, Grow announced that the airport had inked three-year pacts with three major car rental agencies – Avis Budget Rental Car LLC, Enterprise Leasing Co. of Florida LLC and the Hertz Corp. Those companies all have been doing business at the airport for more than 15 years and the leases will bring in about $1.48 million over a three-year period.
Ocala City Councilmembers in November approved a $5.25-million contract – largely funded by grants – for rehabilitation of the main taxiway at the airport. The full-length taxiway services the primary runway and was showing various forms of pavement failure.
The work on the taxiway is being performed by DAB Constructors Inc., which submitted the lowest of two bids. The other bidder, C.W. Roberts Contracting, submitted a proposal for a little more than $6.23 million.
The overwhelming majority of the funding for the project is being provided by two grants the city received. The Federal Aviation Administration is picking up the largest share of the tab at about $4.73 million. A Florida Department of Transportation grant is providing $420,440. And the city’s portion is just $105,110.
In October, the airport played host to President Trump as he landed at the facility aboard Air Force One. From there, Trump boarded Marine One and flew by helicopter to The Villages, where he spoke at the Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center.