Naples Municipal Airport traces its history to World War II, when the Naples Airdrome opened in 1943 to serve as an Air Corps combat-training base for gunners, bomber crews, and fighter pilots. After the war ended, local governments took control of the field.
By the late 1960s, the City of Naples was spending nearly $200,000 annually for airport operations. To rid itself of that liability, the city asked the legislature to create an independent airport authority. In 1969, the management and operating power of the airport was transferred to the City of Naples Airport Authority under a ninety-nine year lease.
From the mid-1990s through the mid-2000s, as many as seven commercial carriers served the airport at one time, transporting up to 174,000 passengers annually. As the economy shifted, the airlines left. Although Naples Municipal Airport now operates as a general aviation airport, it not only maintains its FAA Part 139 Airport Certification as a Class I air carrier airport, but also has recorded seventeen consecutive perfect annual inspections by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Today, top-notch facilities, outstanding customer service and a convenient location two miles from downtown Naples and three miles from the Gulf of Mexico make Naples Municipal Airport a favorite stop for business and leisure pilots. The staff works hard every day to make “the best little airport in the country” even better.
As a result, readers of Professional Pilot magazine named Naples Municipal Airport the 27th best fixed-base operator and the 15th best independent FBO in the U.S. in 2012. In addition, pilots participating in an Aviation International News FBO survey ranked the airport as the fourth most improved FBO from 2010 to 2011, and the Florida Department of Transportation named KAPF the state’s general aviation airport of the year for 2012.
“These rankings recognize our exceptional customer service and the improvements made to our general aviation facilities since 2009,” said Ted Soliday, who has served as executive director since 1994. The Airport Authority renovated and expanded the airport’s general aviation terminal with a sunlit passenger lounge, business center and conference rooms, fitness facility, pilots’ lounge, weather-data station and flight-planning center. Coffee, ice and newspapers are complimentary, and Wi-Fi is available at no charge throughout the airport.
Customer service representatives dispatch aircraft fuel orders and other aircraft services, coordinate catering requests, make hotel, restaurant and ground-transportation reservations, arrange for crew cars and offer advice and directions to arriving pilots and passengers.
The Harmon-Meek Gallery recently installed the first of a series of loaned art exhibits in the General Aviation Terminal. Nine paintings by contemporary impressionist Richard Segalman are on display, including oils, pastels, and monotypes.
The gallery has organized more than 300 exhibits in eighty museums in twenty-seven states since 1980, but this is its first in an airport.
“We hope that by providing some beauty through good quality art, we can create a peaceful setting for travelers,” said Bill Meek, director-owner of the gallery, which was founded in 1964. “We consider this a cultural outreach and decided on our most popular artist for the debut exhibit. Segalman has been visiting Naples and painting here since the late ‘50s, and his name is well recognized nationally.”
In late 2010, U.S. Customs and Border Protection began providing services from a new customs facility, built and paid for by the Airport Authority as a service to airport tenants and the flying public. The facility, staffed from 10:30 am until 7 pm seven days a week, saves time and fuel for pilots returning from overseas trips.