BRADENTON, Fla. - A rebound in passengers at Orlando International Airport in central Florida is fueling expedited planning for a new $1 billion terminal.
Future new service from airlines, including Emirates' daily flights from Dubai starting in September, also prompted the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority's May 20 decision to move forward with the second terminal, which will take about four years to design and construct.
The airport's passenger traffic is nearing pre-recession levels.
On a rolling 12-month basis through April, the passenger count was 600,000 short of OIA's all-time peak of 37.27 million, officials said. Airline seat capacity has also increased by 5.2%.
The authority had set 40 million annual passengers as the trigger point for moving ahead with the south terminal complex.
However, airport staff told the board that its focus has become balancing the financial risk of investment in new capacity and maintaining an acceptable level of service in the existing terminal, which is currently undergoing renovation and expansion.
The governing board agreed to roll back the passenger trigger to 38.5 million from 40 million in order to begin the design work on a 16-to-24 gate south terminal.
The board also authorized using up to $100 million in interim discretionary funds to begin procurement and design work. The expenses ultimately will be repaid by airport funds, general airport revenue bonds, passenger facility charges, and other sources.
In addition to the existing terminal, OIA is already working on a $1.1 billion five-year capital plan that includes a $470 million automated people mover system and related parking at the south terminal location, which will feature multi-modal transportation such as passenger rail service by All Aboard Florida.
The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority had $1.02 billion of outstanding revenue bonds as of Sept. 30, 2014. The bonds are rated AA-minus by Fitch Ratings, Aa3 by Moody's Investors Service, and A-plus by Standard & Poor's.