Manhattan Regional Airport expecting more changes

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The Manhattan Regional Airport is in its Phase One construction of the passenger terminal expansion project on Sept. 30 2014. (File Photo by Rodney Dimick | The Collegian)

The Manhattan Regional Airport opened the bidding process for airport construction and renovation in August 2013. Just over a year and a half later, construction on phase one of the project is being completed.

Jamelah Mitchell, office assistant at the Manhattan Regional Airport, noted that the timeline of the renovation had been extended.

“Completion of phase one was supposed to be in August,” Mitchell said. “The date has changed to the end of this month and the airlines should be operating out of the new terminal on March 11.”

According to Peter Van Kuren, Manhattan Regional Airport Director, phase one of the construction process includes the construction of a new ticketing counter and lobby entrance. Behind the ticketing counter a baggage handling conveyor is being added. Additionally, a checked bag screening area, where the Transportation Security Administration screens checked bags, will be located behind the ticketing area. This larger bag-checking area is capable of holding larger equipment to expedite the screening of bags.

Currently, all checked baggage is being loaded outdoors. With phase one completed, a baggage makeup area (which is a garage) will allow checked baggage to be loaded indoors then taken to the waiting planes, according to Van Kuren.

“Construction hasn’t impacted passangers utilizing the airport that I can see,” Van Kuren said. “We have a very good temporary facility.”

Van Kuren explained that a new passenger screening area will also be included in phase one. This area, which is significantly larger than the current passenger screening area, will be able to hold two passenger screening lines as opposed to the one passenger screening line the airport currently has.

The largest impact phase one will have on the airport is a new secure holding area for passengers to wait in before boarding aircrafts and the new addition of a passenger boarding bridge.

Van Kuren made clear that passenger boarding bridges are a necessity. The bridge is being added for general safety and comfort, so passengers can board the plane without being exposed to the elements.

“It hasn’t affected the airlines ability,” Van Kuren said of the construction process. “It’s not affecting folks wanting to fly. For some folks, it really comes down to the service of the airline.”

Since the beginning of the school year, Samantha Floyd, freshman in psychology, experienced phase one of the airport construction firsthand after flying home to Illinois twice.

“I don’t think the construction of the building affected my traveling,” Floyd said. “It’s a small airport in general, which makes flying easier.”

Phase two of the construction process will begin towards the beginning of April and is allowed 300 days for completion. Airport staff are looking towards beginning of 2016 for total completion on the project.

Van Kuren said a lot of lessons were learned in phase one of the construction process. Phase two is expected to go more smoothly and end on the projected date.

Phase two will provide a meet-and-greet lobby area for people waiting for arriving passengers and will have food and beverage capabilities. An additional passenger holding area will be added, bringing the total seating in the passenger holding area to 300. Another passenger boarding bridge will be added for a total of two passenger boarding bridges after all construction is completed. A new baggage carousel for arriving baggage is also in the plans.

Ultimately, according to FlyMHK.com’s construction information, the the airport will be increasing in size from 12,500 square feet to approximately 42,000 square feet after both phases of renovations are completed.

The Manhattan Regional Airport is planning on having an open house for the public scheduled for March 6.

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