REVAMPING ALASKA'S INTERNATIONAL AIRPORTS.

Author:ESS, CHARLIE
 
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Renovations continue at Anchorage and Fairbanks international airports.

Air travel, it's a great way to go when it works. But let a few glitches arise between home and the beaches at Hawaii, and the trip can become anything but relaxing. As many travelers will attests, delays because of mechanical problems with the aircraft are vexing enough without the complicating factors of flapping [Visqueen.sup.TM], crews with jackhammers, and steel scaffolding awaiting them in the terminal.

Suffice it to say that many might experience delays in many terminals this year because of airport renovation as planners and others struggle to keep up with increases in the number of passengers flying each year. According to the International Air Transport Association, air travel in the United States is increasing at slightly more than 5 percent per year. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs, meanwhile, touts the industry's revenues at around $80 billion with about 500,000 employees, nationwide.

Though passenger numbers haven't quite followed the national growth rate, transportation planners are nonetheless preparing to revamp the AIA terminal to handle more passengers with less congestion.

Construction at Anchorage International

According to last year's estimates, 4.94 million passengers passed through the terminal at the Anchorage International Airport. That translates to $52.2 million in operating revenues.

A team of architects, airport program managers, an airline technical committee and the Anchorage International Airport management saw changes coming back in 1996 and drummed up the Anchorage International Airport Redevelopment Landside Access Project, a long-range construction plan that allows flexibility out to 2015 for additional modifications. The airlines approved the plan in 1997, and a year later the legislature approved a bill authorizing $179 million in revenue bonds. Last year, the legislature approved the use of $25 million in federal highway funds for the project, and another $25 million in revenue bonds, which will be paid back by the Federal Aviation Administration in the form of a 10-year grant.

Though the majority of renovations inside and outside of the terminal will take place between now and 2004, the immediate focus has been on concourse C, which was demolished in January and will be under construction until July 1, 2002. "Once we're done with the new terminal portion we'll move some folks out of...

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