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St. John’s airport to spread its wings

St. John’s International Airport in 2011.
St. John’s International Airport in 2011.

Travellers flying in and out of St. John’s will soon have a lot more room to move at the airport, as well as many more places to eat and shop, over the next four years.

As part of the St. John’s International Airport Authority’s 10-year airport improvement and expansion plan, the airport’s terminal building is expected to double in size by 2021.

The building will include a larger pre-boarding screening area, six more gates and passenger loading bridges, expanded arrival and customs area, a larger seating area, more washroom facilities, and more food, beverage and retail options in the Departments Lounge.

In announcing details of the expansion Monday, the airport authority noted there will also be safety and security changes — there’s been a requirement to install a facility to provide security screening for all vehicles entering the airport terminal building apron.

In addition, there are a number of necessary life cycle replacement facilities required during the 10-year period, including the rehabilitation of a number of aprons, taxiways and the Central De-icing Facility.

In all, $200 million will be invested in improvements over the next 10 years (2017-26) that will allow the airport to accommodate two millions passengers annually.

“The planned improvements are necessary to meet our regulatory obligations as an airport authority to operate an international airport in a safe, secure and effective manner,” said Art Cheeseman, chairman of the airport authority’s board of directors.

“The expansion of our facilities will also enable us to continue to accommodate the increase in passenger traffic at our airport and to welcome the growing number of visitors to our region.”

The largest project included in the new plan is the completion of the terminal building expansion.

The first phase began in 2014 and is presently on budget and on schedule to be completed in the spring of 2018, according to the airport authority. The project will result in an additional 145,000 square feet incorporated into the three levels of the east end of the existing terminal building, and “will significantly expand the range of passengers services while improving the operational efficiency for the airlines and agencies working within the building.”

The second phase of the terminal building expansion will begin next year and, when completed in 2021, will add a further 72,000 square feet to the west end of the existing building that will support the services and facilities necessary for arriving aircraft and passengers.

The expansion projects will mean an airport improvement fee increase of $5 for every passenger boarding a plane at the airport, going from $30 to $35, beginning July 1 of this year.

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