Terminal revamp underscores boost in SFO traffic

A $383 million new terminal project grounded by the aftermath of Sept. 11 is finally set to take off at the busiest airport in the Bay Area, officials said Monday.

The major renovation of San Francisco International Airport’s domestic Terminal 2, which has been closed since the International Terminal opened in December 2000, will finally begin this month, Airport Director John Martin said.

<p>The 610,000-square-foot terminal will feature 14 gates, an existing bridge to the AirTrain, new concessions and possible newequipment for a paperless ticket system.

The terminal, which will be the smallest of four terminals when completed, will be ready for fliers by fall 2010, Martin said.

Terminal 2 was slated for renovation in fall 2001 after the $950 million International Terminal opened in December 2000, but an economic downturn coupled with the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks led to drastic decreases in passengers counts and delayed the project, Martin said.

Airport passengers in 2007 (35.8 million) finally surpassed levels from 2001 (34.6 million) but were still down from 2000 (41 million).

Martin attributed much of the comeback to three new low-cost carriers that began flying at SFO last year: Virgin America, JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines. Burlingame-based Virgin will be the main tenant at the new terminal and Southwest and JetBlue are two other likely occupants, officials said.

The Terminal 2 renovation comes as the airline industry experiences a massive slump, with fares skyrocketing, four airlines declaring bankruptcy and federal investigations into maintenance violations conducted on a number of major airlines in recent months.

But despite the industry’s woes, SFO’s “very strong growth” is expected to continue, Martin said.

“It’s not often you see an expansion like this from any airport,” said Virgin America spokeswoman Abby Lunardini.

There are also preliminary plans at SFO to launch a paperless ticket system, said spokesman Mike McCarron. Boarding pass barcodes would be sent to a passenger’s cell phone or PDA, he said.

mrosenberg@sfexaminer.com

SFO’s Terminal 2 renovation by the numbers

$383 million: Cost of the project

610,000 square feet: Size of terminal

14: Gates at new terminal

10: Gates at terminal when it closed

1954: Terminal 2 opened

December 2000: Terminal 2 closed

Fall 2010: Terminal expected to open

Other plans for Terminal 2 renovation

» Paperless ticket system

» Preferential parking for hybrid cars

» Rebuild nearby FAA air traffic control tower

» New baggage-handling system

» New in-line explosive-detection system

» New concessions

Source: SFO

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