ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Orlando International Airport is getting a major makeover. The third largest airport in the country is pumping $1.3 billion into an expansion project that will eventually include an additional terminal.
“If traffic continues to grow at the rate that it’s growing, you will likely see the first sixteen gates open in the South [terminal] down here in late 2019,” said Stan Thornton of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.
Thornton said the project, which was mostly funded using airport-generated money from a $4.50 ticket surcharge, is needed to accommodate a growing number of travelers. More than 3.2 million people made their way through OIA in August alone.
“We’re trending right now at about 37.8 million passengers [per year]. That’s the highest number we’ve ever seen at this airport and every indication we have, it looks like it’s going to continue to grow.”
The expansion is being done in phases, based on that growth. Currently under construction, is a cell phone lot that is designed to relieve pick-up congestion. Located just north of the airport’s Main Terminal on Jeff Fuqua Boulevard (SR 436), the North Cell Lot was designed to be customer-friendly with the following amenities like free Wi-Fi, flight information monitors, restrooms, pet areas, and easy access to Terminals A and B. That will open later this week, just in time for the holiday season.
“We want the travel experience at Orlando International Airport to be as stress-free as possible for all of our customers,” says Frank Kruppenbacher, Chairman of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. “We hope this new state-of-the-art facility will exceed their demands by reducing or eliminating circling time while waiting for passengers to arrive.”
A new Automated People Mover will connect the existing terminal to the planned South Terminal and Intermodal Terminal Facility. The intermodal complex will link the airport to an expanded SunRail line and the All Aboard Florida high speed train, that will eventually connect Orlando to Miami. Travelers can expect to ride the new rails by mid-2017.
As for the project that will become the South Terminal, that’s still in the design phase but is expected to get underway soon.