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"ABIA Considering Expanding To Handle More Passengers"


 
Monday, December 18, 2006

ABIA Considering Expanding To Handle More Passengers
KXAN-TV Ch 36 (NBC), Austin (TX)
 
 
Following a year full of new and expanded flight service from Austin
Bergstrom International Airport, more changes are coming.

The airport will now likely start looking at physically expanding to handle
increasing passenger traffic.

Right now, the terminal can handle about 11 million passengers arriving or
departing each year.

ABIA is still well within its current capacity, but they'll likely finish
this year with annual passenger traffic that warrants looking at design
changes.

At the high rate people have been using Austin's airport, a record 8 million
passengers will likely pass through ABIA this year.

Carson Stephens uses the airport about four times a month.

"I go to Dallas and Houston and Denver. Of all the airports I travel in,
this is the one I'm always glad to see. It's just accessible, and easy to
park and easy to get in and out," Stephens said.

The 8-million level is also a trigger point to look into design changes to
stay ahead of passenger growth, so things don't overflow.

"Some of our original masterplan included possibly expanding out the east
end of the airport, which is over here, where there is space available. And
there are some other possibilities. We just have to see what the designers
come up with," ABIA Spokesperson Jim Halbrook

The airport's also dealing with more travel service. American Airlines just
announced yet another non-stop flight to the west coast to Seattle, which
will start this spring.

AeroMexico has now joined Jet Blue to start using ABIA this year, so most of
the ticket counters are rented.

Halbrook said: "We're starting to feel the squeeze on space."
KXAN's R.J. DeSilva asked: "What about gates?"
Halbrook said: "The gates are predominantly used. There are still some that
are available, but again, with the passenger growth, [and] two new airliners
joining, we're looking at that as a pretty limited resource at the moment."

There's no timetable on looking into any potential design changes. Halbrook
said when you look at passenger traffic, at least two airlines, American
Airlines and Continental, are now flying larger planes in and out of Austin.

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