News Article - February 22, 2008

  FEBRUARY 22, 2008 -- Philadelphia International Airport is in the midst of a construction project that will allow for more security lanes, more baggage carousels and more aircraft gates in the near future to help it handle more passengers faster. The project will create a connector from Terminal E, which previously been had isolated from the rest of the airport, to Terminal D.

   "The way the airport is currently configured with security checkpoints, once you pass through security at any of the terminals—A West, A East, B, C or D—you're able to go to any one of those gates in any one of the concourses without having to go back through security," said Mark Gale, deputy director of aviation for operations and facilities for the airport. " If you wanted to go to a gate in E, however, you would have to exit out of security and reenter security at Terminal E." The connector between the two terminals, slated for completion by Thanksgiving, also will provide increased security screening lanes. Right now, Terminals D and E each have four lanes.

   "We're going to provide an expanded passenger-screening checkpoint facility. Most likely, we'll start with 12, but we'll have the ability to expand to 14," Gale said. Among the other updates to the two terminals are the connection of the two baggage areas and the addition of two more baggage carousels by this December. "That's helpful for an airline like Southwest, which currently operates out of both terminals. It's a more efficient operation," Gale said. An extension will be built onto Terminal E by October 2009 and will allow for a "net gain of three additional aircraft gates," Gale said.

   Checked baggage screening in the terminals also will receive an update, with the installation of an automatic, inline explosive detection system, scheduled for completion in May 2009. "We believe that we are going to be able to process both people and baggage much faster and much more efficiently than we do today. The screening checkpoints will be constructed to the latest TSA criteria, as will the baggage handling system," he said. The project costs approximately $300 million, Gale said. It is being funded primarily by airport revenue bonds and a $4.50 passenger facility charge.

   Meanwhile, the airport by December plans to finish extending a commuter runway to allow more regional jets to land, which officials said would reduce delays by an average two minutes on an annual basis, Gale said. The project also will include an expanded economy parking lot with a new toll plaza that will be nearly complete by May. "The airport is in the midst of long-range master planning efforts that identify a variety of alternative efforts that might be used to help combat congestion and delay issues here," he said.

Source - BTN Online