ORLANDO, Fla. - Orlando International Airport (OIA) is reporting near-record high traffic, approaching pre-pandemic levels.
In February 2019, the airport saw just over 44 million domestic travelers. Now, they are sitting just below 44 million. These numbers are what created the need for the new Terminal C, and just one month into operations, airport officials have plans for further expansion over the next three years.
The new terminal currently handles international flights but in less than a week JetBlue will begin flying domestic flights out of Terminal C as well.
"What it’s doing right now is with the relocation of airlines there it’s a trying to spread out some of the volumes," said Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) CEO Kevin Thibault.
The GOAA board voted on Wednesday to approve construction projects that had to be cut during the pandemic. One of those projects will add four more gates to the terminal.
The projects will begin this month and conclude in 2025. In the meantime, the airport hopes to move more airlines over to the new terminal along with other projects to handle the new demand.
"We will also be bringing back other expansions like the pedestrian bridge that connects right into the train station or the improvements to allow aircraft to remain overnight," said Thibault.
Airport executives said October travel numbers indicate a new record-high number of domestic travelers over the last 12 months. Airport experts believe this is about more than just people wanting to travel to Orlando.
"We always have been and always will be a strong destination, but the original population is growing here," said Thibault. "People here are wanting to get out and travel boosting a lot of those numbers."
Once those new gates are added, OIA hopes to move about a half dozen airlines over to the new terminal. They believe the terminal will account for 20% of all their air traffic.