Stennis International Airport and U.S. Air Force Partner for Joint Use Agreement

By Janel Carothers, Chief Development Officer
Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission

A new joint use agreement covers the U.S. Air Force’s use of Stennis International Airport facilities for training exercises.

The Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission has entered into an agreement with the United States of America for joint use of Stennis International Airport for military training purposes.  The agreement runs through September 2021 and includes a payment of approximately $1.1 million by the U.S. government to cover the costs of operating and maintaining the airport with respect to the substantial use of the airport.

Chanse Watson, Airport Director, said the joint use agreement covers the U.S. Air Force’s substantial use of Stennis facilities, primarily for conducting nighttime exercises, which requires the airport to provide enhanced fire protection services as well as cover associated airfield maintenance expenses.

“The 403rd, a C-130J wing out of Keesler AFB, will schedule these training exercises with our office, and in turn, we will ensure all appropriate fire services are scheduled and the airfield is ready to serve as host for their training needs,” says Watson.  “Such operations are normally scheduled during the nighttime hours for minimal impact to other airport customers.”

Watson said the airport remains open to all customers even when military training is taking place.

“The military has been an excellent partner to general aviation here and works very well with all customers visiting or based at Stennis International Airport,” he remarks.  “This is one of many of the unique operations that occur at Stennis, alongside our recent efforts to promote all modes of aviation including general aviation, by our recent announcement of recruiting a Part 141 flight school operator.  Now we have two flight schools on the field to allow Stennis International Airport to serve as a training gateway to Hancock County and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”