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Humphrey Terminal Nears Completion
By Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
April 24, 2001
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The Metropolitan Airports Commission has presented a sneak preview of its new $73 million Hubert H. Humphrey Terminal. The new facility will begin service on May 2nd. It's four times the size of the old terminal, which will be torn down to accommodate a new parking ramp. MAC representatives say the services and amenities found in the new facility will help passengers navigate the terminal with ease. Twin Cities-based Sun Country Airlines says the new terminal will help it improve service and its financial condition.

Take a slideshow tour of the new terminal.
THE OLD TERMINAL began as an aircraft hangar in 1965. It didn't open for service as a charter terminal until 1976. Over the years it's undergone several expansions and renovations. However, Metropolitan Airports Commission officials say they eventually determined the current Humphrey Terminal just couldn't handle the increased passenger traffic.

"The existing building has provide yeoman service for the MAC over the years, but we had flat out outgrown it. Charter service, which was previously all handled out of Humphrey, began to migrate to Lindberg Terminal because we physically couldn't handle that capacity," according to Dennis Probst, MAC's director of landside development.

Another reason for the increased demand is Sun Country's effort to establish itself as a low-cost alternative to Northwest Airlines. The long-time charter operator began scheduled services in 1999. But the company has lost more than $40 million since then, and its complaints to the Department of Justice over alleged anti-competitive behavior by Northwest have had little effect.

Sun Country Director of Communications Tammy Lee says the construction of the terminal will be good for the airline.

"This is an important step forward for Sun Country by being able to expand our schedule and grow our operation that will certainly contribute to the success of the airline," she says.

Sun Country will be the anchor tenant in the new facility and will have exclusive use of four gates.

When the new facility begins handling flights on May 2nd, a total of four gates will be in operation. By the end of this year, MAC expects 10 gates to be functioning. And, if needed, an additional six gates can be added. That would bring the cost of the terminal to $90 million.

The new terminal will offer expanded immigration and customs services for up to 800 international passengers per hour - double the current capacity. The new terminal will also feature four high-capacity baggage carousels, a Fletcher's Wharf restaurant, gift shops and an in-flight movie-rental service.

However MAC Manager of Airline Operations Daniel Foster says one of the most impressive features of the new building is its design.

"This particular portion of the building makes the building rather intuitive; when passengers walk into the ticketing hall, we believe it's fairly obvious with the layout of the building where the next location is. Up through the vertical circulation into the gatehold areas through security," Foster says.

Until the eight-story parking ramp is completed by October 2002, passengers can still park in the existing Econolot or use a new valet parking service. A light-rail transit station is scheduled to be built there in 2004.