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"Nashville Airport terminal changes praised"
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Airport terminal changes praised
Building named after former airport authority chairman
By Duane Marsteller
It was a get-together that Robert C.H. Mathews Jr. - better-known simply as
"Bob," "Bobby"or "Mr. Chairman" - would have enjoyed.
More than 100 people, including several elected state and local officials,
gathered at Nashville International Airport on July 12 to celebrate
completion of the terminal's latest renovation project and rename the
building in Mathews' honor.
"He was such a people person," said Alice Casey Mathews, who was surrounded
by family members as airport officials unveiled a plaque commemorating her
late husband's contributions to the airport. "He would have loved this. He
never met a person he didn't like."
Mathews, who died in 2008 at age 80, served on the Metro Nashville Airport
Authority from 1979 to 2001. He was chairman of the board, which manages
Nashville International and John C. Tune airports, for 19 of those years.
During Mathews' tenure, the authority opened the passenger terminal that now
bears his name, expanded the cargo terminal, added runways and parking areas
and developed Tune airport.
"Bobby Mathews was a great leader, not just for the authority but for
aviation in general," said Raul Regalado, the authority's president and
chief executive. "From early on in his tenure, he stood behind this industry
as being an essential part of our region's economy."
Nashville's two airports generated an estimated $3.75 billion economic
impact in 2006, according to a 2007 study done for the authority. Nine
airlines now offer 380 daily flights at Nashville International, which
handled more than 9 million passengers in 2010.
Some passengers, appropriately dressed in light clothing for a 100-degree
day, briefly stopped or turned their heads as they passed the renaming
ceremony being held in the passenger terminal's ticketing lobby. That
prompted Mayor Karl Dean, who was wearing a dark-colored suit, to joke that
he wished he could be less formally attired.
The mayor also called Mathews "an early proponent of air service as an
economic engine" who recognized that Nashville International was a key first
impression for visitors and visiting businesspeople.
Airport officials say the recently completed renovation project only will
enhance that image.
The roughly $30 million project included new public restrooms and renovation
of existing ones, new carpet and tile in the terminal and concourse, a
renovated baggage claim area and fresh wall coverings.
It was the second phase of a larger project that previously resulted in more
than 30 new food, beverage and retail vendors, opened a central passenger
security checkpoint and added concourse skylights and flight information
That's not the end of the improvements. The airport also expects to finish
building a 1.2 million-square-foot consolidated rental car facility later
And more work is on the way. Next month, the authority will launch a $4.2
million project to replace escalators and glass windows in the passenger
terminal; install walls next to the moving sidewalk in the short-term
parking garage; relocate ticket counters; and install additional security
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