In recent airport developments, San Diego will get a new federal inspections facility; faster security screening comes to Newark; don’t be afraid when you see this new device at Atlanta; Orlando gets another passenger lounge; there’s a new way to kill time at Portland; and Southwest has big growth plans at Phoenix.
Facing a big increase in international arrivals, San Diego County’s Regional Airport Authority Board has approved plans to build a new Federal Inspection Services facility in Terminal 2 West. Officials hope to complete the $229 million project by June of next year. The airport’s current total of 300,000 annual international arrivals is expected to grow by 33 percent over the next seven years. “The new facility will not only help operationally accommodate increased demand, but improve the processing experience for passengers with reduced wait times and a more welcoming environment,” said airport board chairman April Boling.
At Newark Liberty International, United has officially cut the ribbon on a big new security checkpoint with those automated lanes that have been spreading to more airports. To speed passengers to the gates at its Terminal C hub, United consolidated previous checkpoints into one big redesigned facility with 17 automated screening lanes (including dedicated Premier Access and TSA PreCheck lanes). Some automated lanes have also been installed for United’s passengers at Chicago O’Hare and Los Angeles, but Newark is its first hub to offer nothing but the new lane designs, which move passengers through about 30 percent faster than traditional screening.
Next time you fly into Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson, don’t get excited if you see a drone hovering around the airport’s skies. It’s not a security risk. As the airport proceeds with various phases of its ongoing $6 billion construction project, contractors concluded that drone flights above ATL provide the best technology for surveying and inspecting the pavement on the airport’s runways.
Orlando International Airport has opened a second shared-use passenger lounge created by Airport Lounge Development Inc. The new Club MCO lounge in Airside 1 (Gates 1-29) can accommodate up to 60 persons. It has a Relaxing Zone with comfortable eating and power outlets; a Resting Zone where you can put your feet up; a Productivity Zone for taking care of business; and a Kids Zone for youngsters. It also has showers and a food and beverage service. The company’s first lounge at MCO is in Airside 4. Lounge access costs $40 for a day pass, including food, drinks and Wi-Fi. Entry is free for members of Priority Pass, LoungeKey and Lounge Club, and some airlines arrange free access for their premium passengers.
Southwest Airlines President Tom Nealon said at a recent Phoenix appearance that his airline has big growth plans for Sky Harbor Airport. According to USA Today, Nealon said Southwest wants to add eight more gates at PHX in addition to the 24 it currently uses in Terminal 4. He said the company has committed to occupy all of a new eight-gate concourse to be located near Southwest’s existing D gates at PHX. The new concourse is expected to open in 2021. Southwest is the number two airline at Phoenix, behind American.
What’s a microcinema? It’s a very small movie theater, and one recently opened at Portland International Airport. Operating as a branch of Portland’s renowned Hollywood Theatre, the airport cinema on Concourse C only seats 17, but it’s got a $200,000 projection and sound system, and is insulated from aircraft noise. It’s been showing an hour-long selection of short G-rated films by local auteurs.