Jun 17, 2016
Jensen Werley, Reporter
Jacksonville Business Journal
Over the next week, Navy personnel and aircraft will be departing Cecil Airport and return to Naval Air Station Jacksonville.
In May of last year, about 4,500 Navy personnel, over 150 vehicles and more than 60 aircraft transitioned to Cecil Airport while the NAS Jax runways were renovated.
To accommodate the Navy, the Jacksonville Aviation Authority leased out five buildings and over 1 million square feet of ramp and apron area for aircraft parking. The Navy installed two fabric hangars and many portable buildings, and existing Cecil tenants leased out some of their hangar and ramp space.
The control tower also operated nearly 24/7, marking the first time in history Navy controllers were certified at a U.S. civilian airport, wrote Cecil Executive Director Rusty Chandler in a debriefing he shared with the Business Journal.
By the end of May, Chandler said the Navy conducted 73,188 Navy flight operations at Cecil Airport.
The projected departure date is June 27. Over the next few weeks, the Navy will transition its nine aviation squadrons back to NAS Jax. Support equipment and furniture will be moved back to the station between June 27 and 30. Navy air traffic control operations will end next week, and today, the Jacksonville Aviation Authority will hold a farewell celebrations for the Navy.
Although Chandler said the Navy departure will mean a less-bustling airport — the Navy matched JAA employees at Cecil nearly one for one — the JAA will be able to continue focusing on airport development and seek additional business opportunities now.
"We'll miss them," Chandler said, adding that the Navy's departure meant less people but also less revenue when its leased buildings become vacant again. "But it was more work for us, certainly."