Palm Beach International Airport

Palm Beach International Airport
Palm Beach International Airport
PBIA Close.jpg
PBI is located in Florida
Location of the Palm Beach International Airport
Airport type Public
Owner Palm Beach County Department of Airports
Serves West Palm Beach, Florida
Elevation AMSL 19 ft / 6 m
Coordinates 26°40′59″N 80°05′44″W / 26.68306°N 80.09556°W / 26.68306; -80.09556
Direction Length Surface
ft m
10L/28R 10,008 3,050 Asphalt
10R/28L 3,213 979 Asphalt
14/32 6,932 2,113 Asphalt
Statistics (2009, 2010)
Aircraft operations (2009) 153,056
Based aircraft (2009) 126
Passengers (2010) 5,887,723
Source: Federal Aviation Administration[1]

Palm Beach International Airport (IATA: PBIICAO: KPBIFAA LID: PBI) is a public airport located 3 nautical miles (5.6 kilometers) west of Palm Beach, Florida, in West Palm Beach, Florida, and serves Palm Beach County. The airport is operated and maintained by Palm Beach County Department of Airports. Road access to the airport is available directly from I-95, Southern Boulevard, and Congress Avenue. The airport is bordered to the west by Military Trail.



For the military use of the Airport, see Palm Beach Air Force Base

Palm Beach International Airport (KPBI) began operations in 1936 as Morrison Field. Morrison Field was named in honor of Miss Grace K. 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 officially dedicated on December 19, 1936.

In 1937, the airport was 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, commencing in 1941. 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 in order to take part in the D-Day invasion of Normandy.

In 1947, the newly-established U.S. Air Force moved to Brookley Field, later Brookley AFB, in Mobile, Alabama and commercial services by Eastern Airlines and National Airlines resumed from Morrison Field. The name was officially changed to Palm Beach International Airport on August 11, 1948.

The airport was once again used by the U.S. Air Force in 1951 and renamed Palm Beach Air Force Base,[2] under the control of the Military Air Transport Service (MATS). Functioning as a joint civil-military airport, USAF operations occupied the north half of the airfield while civilian operations and an associated commercial terminal occupied the south half. MATS used the base as a training facility 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 1950s and 1960s.

The Air Weather Service also used Palm Beach AFB as a headquarters for hurricane research, flying the first WB-50D Superfortress "Hurricane Hunter" aircraft from the base in 1956.

After several years of Palm Beach County fighting the Air Force presence in West Palm Beach, the Air Force started to close down operations at the base. The 1707 ATW was inactivated on 30 June 1959 and reassigned to Tinker AFB, Oklahoma. With the wing's departure, Palm Beach County took over airfield operations. The Air Force continues to retain 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. In addition, the Air Photographic and Charting Service (APCS) moved its 1370th Photo-Mapping Wing to the base, performing geodetic survey flights. During the early 1960s, Palm beach AFB was also used by Air Force One, with President John F. Kennedy landing at the base when staying at the Kennedy home in Palm Beach. The Air Force closed Palm Beach AFB in 1962 and all property was conveyed to Palm Beach International Airport the same year.[3]

Delta Air Lines began scheduled service in 1959 and was followed by Capital Airlines in 1960. Jet-powered flights were introduced by Eastern Airlines in 1959 with the turboprop Lockheed L-188 Electra.

In October 1966, a jet-age eight-gate Main Terminal Building was opened on the northeast quadrant of the airport. In 1974, Delta Air Lines moved into its own six-gate unit terminal which featured the airport's first jetways. The FAA built a new Air Traffic Control Tower on the south side of the airport during this period.

On October 23, 1988, the 25-gate David McCampbell Terminal, named for World War II naval flying ace, Medal of Honor recipient and Palm Beach County resident CAPT David McCampbell, USN (Ret) was officially dedicated. The 550,000-square-foot (51,000 m2) terminal was designed with expansion in mind and can be doubled in size when required.

In 2003, its terminal was voted among the finest in the nation by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler Magazine. In that same year, a new landscaped and state of the art I-95 interchange was built to decrease traffic on Southern Boulevard (US 98) extending Turnage Boulevard (the road around the perimeter of the concourse).

Aggressive competition for the southern end of the airport's market from rapidly expanding Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport led to an unanticipated stagnation of passenger growth at the airport throughout the 1990s. The 2001 recession and the September 11th terrorist attacks further inhibited growth. However, rapid 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 Airways decided to make PBI a mini-hub for travelers from the northeast during this period, further increasing traffic at the airport. In 2006, the county embarked on an interim expansion program by breaking ground on a new 7 story parking garage and the addition of 3 gates within Concourse C. Long range expansions include an expansion of gates at Concourse B and the eventual construction of a new 14 gate Concourse D to be extended east from the present terminal.[citation needed]

A panorama of Palm Beach International Airport, taken from what was the 391st Bomb Group Restaurant off of Southern Boulevard.

Annual passenger counts

Enplaning and deplaning combined.[4]

2010 - 5,887,723 [5]
2009 - 5,994,606 [6]
2008 - 6,476,303 [7]
2007 - 6,936,449 [8]
2006 - 6,824,789 [9]
2005 - 7,014,237 [10]
2004 - 6,537,263 [11]
2003 - 6,010,820 [12]
2002 - 5,483,662 [13]
2001 - 5,934,904 [14]
2000 - 5,842,594 [15]


Palm Beach International Airport covers 2,120 acres (858 ha) and has three runways:[1]

  • Runway 10L/28R: 10,008 x 150 ft. (3,050 x 46 m), Surface: Asphalt
  • Runway 10R/28L: 3,213 x 75 ft. (979 x 23 m), Surface: Asphalt
  • Runway 14/32: 6,931 x 150 ft. (2,113 x 46 m), Surface: Asphalt

On December 17, 2009, the runway designations were changed, the former runway designations were:[16]

  • Runway 9L/27R: 10,008 x 150 ft. (3,050 x 46 m), Surface: Asphalt
  • Runway 9R/27L: 3,213 x 75 ft. (979 x 23 m), Surface: Asphalt
  • Runway 13/31: 6,931 x 150 ft. (2,113 x 46 m), Surface: Asphalt

Air traffic control tower

A new 240-foot (73 m) Air Traffic Control tower is currently 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.[17] The current tower lies on the southern side of the airport.


  • Helicopter operations typically use 10R/28L or its parallel taxiways, or make a direct approach to either Customs or the Galaxy Aviation ramp.
  • Palm Beach County Sheriffs Office (PBSO) maintains its air division from a hangar at the southwest corner of the airport.
  • Health Care District of Palm Beach County operates the Traumahawk with Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue from a hangar at the southwest corner of the airport, next to PBSO.

Other hangars

  • General Aviation FBO's and hangars are located along the southern edge of the airport, with entrance access available by the Jet Aviation FBO. Other FBOs at PBI include Galaxy Aviation and Signature Flight Support.

Fire protection and emergency medical services

The Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue Aviation Battalion is located between runways at PBI. The battalion is made up of 3 shifts of Aviation Firefighters, Florida Paramedics, a shift Lieutenant and District Chief. The Aviation Battalion Chief oversees all aspects in the battalion. The battalion is responsible for Emergency Medical Services and fire protection for the entire airport.

There is 1 Rescue/Pumper unit (ambulance/mini-pumper), 4 Airport Crash Trucks, 1 mobile command unit, 1 support truck (with backboards, body bags, air bottles, etc.), 1 airplane stair truck, and 3 Battalion Officer vehicles in the Battalion.[18]

Concourses, airlines, and destinations

Destinations with direct service from PBI
Airlines Destinations Concourse
Air Canada Seasonal: Montreal-Trudeau, Toronto-Pearson C
AirTran Airways Atlanta, White Plains
Seasonal: Baltimore
American Airlines Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth C
Bahamasair Marsh Harbour A
Continental Airlines Cleveland, Houston-Intercontinental, Newark
Seasonal: Chicago-O'Hare
Continental Connection operated by Gulfstream International Airlines Marsh Harbour, Treasure Cay A
Continental Express operated by ExpressJet Airlines Cleveland, Houston-Intercontinental B
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Detroit, New York-LaGuardia C
Direct Air operated by various carriers Seasonal: Niagara Falls, Worcester[19] B
JetBlue Airways Boston, Hartford/Springfield [begins January 12][20], New York-JFK, New York-LaGuardia, Newark, White Plains C
Southwest Airlines Baltimore, Long Island/Islip, Philadelphia, Tampa B
Spirit Airlines Seasonal: Atlantic City, Detroit B
US Airways Charlotte, Philadelphia, Washington-National B
US Airways Express operated by Republic Airlines Washington-National B

Top Destinations

Top ten busiest domestic routes out of PBI
(July 2010 - June 2011) [21]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Georgia (U.S. state) Atlanta, GA 558,000 AirTran, Delta
2 New Jersey Newark, NJ 326,000 Continental, JetBlue
3 New York New York-JFK, NY 244,000 JetBlue
4 North Carolina Charlotte, NC 199,000 US Airways
5 New York New York-LaGuardia, NY 196,000 Delta, JetBlue
6 Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 182,000 Southwest, US Airways
7 Massachusetts Boston, MA 158,000 JetBlue
8 New York White Plains, NY 143,000 AirTran, JetBlue
9 Maryland Baltimore, MD 126,000 AirTran, Southwest
10 New York Islip, NY 100,000 Southwest

Public transportation

Palm Tran buses #40 and #44 serve the airport. Both provide connections to the West Palm Beach Tri-Rail/Amtrak/Greyhound station.


In conjunction with the slated construction of a new ATC tower at PBIA, the FAA 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 currently houses air traffic controllers for both Miami and Fort Lauderdale international airports.

Donald Trump sued to block the expansion of one of the runways at PBIA.[22]

Incidents involving PBI

  • On January 30, 2008, American Airlines Flight 1738, a Boeing 757 flying from Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico to Philadelphia International Airport, had to make an emergency landing in West Palm Beach after the captain reported smoke in the cockpit. Of the 137 passengers and seven crewmembers, one passenger and five crewmembers were taken to the hospital, including the captain and the first officer.[23]
  • On February 22, 2008, American Airlines Flight 862, a McDonnell Douglas MD-80 flying from Palm Beach International Airport to O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, was diverted to Miami International Airport for an emergency landing due to nose gear trouble. Of the 130 passengers on board there were no injuries reported.[24]
  • On March 12, 2009, best-selling author and international leadership guru, John Maxwell, was arrested at Palm Beach International for trying to board a plane with a concealed weapon. According to the report, the TSA screener noticed a handgun displayed inside Maxwell's briefcase. Maxwell told TSA officials that the gun was recently given to him as a gift and that he had simply forgotten to take it out of the briefcase. He was charged with possession of a concealed weapon while attempting to board an airplane and was released from jail on bond. The charges were eventually dropped and his record was cleared. Maxwell addressed the incident on his personal website [1], calling it "one of the stupidest things" he has ever done.[25]
  • On November 11, 2010, a Piper PA-44 Seminole flying from Palm Beach International Airport to Melbourne International Airport crashed on a taxiway after an engine failed during takeoff. The plane was operated by Florida Institute of Technology's College of Aeronautics and all four aboard—two FIT flight students, a flight instructor, and a passenger—were killed.[26][27]

See also


  1. ^ a b FAA Airport Master Record for PBI (Form 5010 PDF), effective 2009-12-17
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Passenger and Rental Reports - Palm Beach International Airport
  5. ^ Palm Beach International Traffic Report for the period ended Dec 2010
  6. ^ Palm Beach International Traffic Report for the period ended Dec 2009
  7. ^ Palm Beach International Traffic Report for the period ended Dec 2008
  8. ^ Palm Beach International Traffic Report for the period ended Dec 2007
  9. ^ Palm Beach International Traffic Report for the period ended Dec 2006
  10. ^ Palm Beach International Traffic Report for the period ended Dec 2005
  11. ^ Palm Beach International Traffic Report for the period ended Dec 2004
  12. ^ Palm Beach International Traffic Report for the period ended Dec 2003
  13. ^ Palm Beach International Traffic Report for the period ended Dec 2002
  14. ^ Palm Beach International Traffic Report for the period ended Dec 2001
  15. ^ Palm Beach International Traffic Report for the period ended Dec 2000
  16. ^ "FAASTeam Notice - NOTC2052: Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) Runway Designation Change, effective December 17, 2009". Federal Aviation Administration. Retrieved December 16, 2009. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ Aaron Lang - Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue
  19. ^ Direct Air & Tours,, retrieved 2010-Jul-22
  20. ^
  21. ^,%20FL:%20Palm%20Beach%20International&carrier=FACTS
  22. ^ Playford, Adam. Trump sues to prevent runway expansion, The Palm Beach Post,, July 19, 2010
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^,0,110423.story

External links

Coordinates: 26°41′00″N 80°05′44″W / 26.6832°N 80.0956°W / 26.6832; -80.0956

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