FL Panhandle airport opens amid oil scares

Associated Press - May 21, 2010 1:45 PM ET

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) - The massive Gulf oil spill is taking the luster off this weekend's opening of a new international airport in the Florida Panhandle.

The first flights will leave Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport on Sunday. The Panama City airport will serve Southwest and Delta airlines with routes that include Atlanta, Memphis, Orlando, Houston, Baltimore and Nashville.

Backers hope it will bring new tourists to the area's beaches, which are known for their white sands and pristine waters.

So far the oil from the spill has stayed away but if it comes, local officials say they will work to restore the beaches.

The St. Joe Co. is the area's largest land owner and developer and was the primary backer of the airport.

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