View Full Version : Airport Completion delayed until Summer

12-16-2005, 07:11 AM
This is the project that will never end... Will be well over six years of construction and what do you bet "summer" means October at the earliest?

How about setting a date and sticking to it? Yes, there have been needed changes due to security (athough I doubt that has much to do with much of the delays) but those are now incorporated in the design and they should be able to set a firm completion date and be held to it.

As a side note, the airport website hasn't been updated in over two months now.


Construction work on final approach at Will Rogers airport
By Julie Bisbee
The Oklahoman

The plywood-covered walkways are gone from the main terminal of Will Rogers World Airport. So are most of the dust and noise.

With few obvious signs, construction at the airport continues and is expected to be completed by summer.

Design changes after the 2001 terrorist attacks, unexpected obstacles in construction and flux in the airline industry caused the airport’s completion date to be bumped from December to summer 2006.

“It’s been frustrating,” Mayor Mick Cornett said. “I think a lot of the delay was from the security precautions that had to be put in place. Renovating an airport at the same time you are operating it seems pretty daunting, and I think it’s been done as well as it could have been.”

People who traveled through the airport in the spring might remember covered walkways and being rerouted outside to get to ticket counters and gates. Now most of the construction is confined to the far east end of the terminal, and workers are putting the finishing touches on three gates that are expected to open in February.

Two baggage claims, three ticket counters and a second security checkpoint also will be added in the eastern concourse, said Karen Carney, spokeswoman for Will Rogers World Airport.

Completing the airport project has been difficult as crews crack into the old part of the terminal built in 1967 and find lead-based paint and asbestos to remove. All this has to be done in a way that doesn’t disrupt travelers.

“I’ve been doing construction for 28 years, and I’ve never been involved in a more complex and complicated project as this one,” said Jerry Ennis, president of southern operations for Boldt Co., which is doing the construction work.

As workers do the last bit of work, Ennis is confident the project will be completed on time. “I can see the light at the end of the tunnel for the first time in four years,” Ennis said.

When the contract for the terminal renovations was awarded in November 2001, airport officials were grappling with security changes brought on by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The terrorist attacks meant every bag needed to be screened for explosives. Passengers had to be patted down and checked for dangerous items and access to the gates had to be limited.

“The security requirements changed, and we evolved as we were building,” said Tom Gunning, vice president of Benham Cos. and project manager during the design phase. “We needed to change the amount of queuing space, the space needed to screen passengers and we also saw increased security in the baggage space.”

In the first year of construction, airport officials also saw the numbers of travelers decrease. Then it became difficult to decide how the airport should be changed - would travelers come back and would the numbers return to pre-9/11 levels?

“We didn’t anticipate a slowdown in growth and passenger travel dropping off,” Gunning said. “Now it’s growing again and has been for several years. At the same time, many airlines have been restructured, and we’ve had to adapt how they would function at the airport.”

The renovated airport has boosted Oklahoma City’s image at a time when national media and sports figures are using the airport since the Hornets relocated here after Hurricane Katrina hit their home city of New Orleans.

“I’ve had first-hand accounts of that,” Cornett said. “At the press conference when we announced the Hornets were coming, head coach Byron Scott said he was very impressed with what he saw of the city. It’s the first impression people have with the city.”

Travelers are paying for the improvements. The renovations have been paid for by bonds, and passenger facilities charges are repaying the debt. The fees are tacked on to the price of an airline ticket. Passengers flying out of Oklahoma City pay $3 in charges. The money can only be used for airport improvement projects.

• April 1998: Terminal planning study completed.
• March 2000: Phase 1 of construction begins. Includes widening approaches and departure roadways, adds escalator station in parking garage.
• February 2002: Construction on terminal begins.
• June 2003: New west concourse, ticket lobby and baggage claim open. Concourse includes 11 new gates, stores and eateries.
• April: Gates for Southwest Airlines opens. Food court opens.
• May: Plaza garden completed, bronze Will Rogers statute dedicated.
• June: Tunnel from parking garage opens, center escalators open, presecurity retail opens.
• September: Southwest and United Airlines move into new gates and baggage claim areas.
• Summer 2006: Airport to be completed.

12-16-2005, 11:44 AM
Have you been to the airport lately? I think it will be finished this summer, maybe as early as late June. Things are coming together quickly.

Here is another article about the airport. This is greatly needed, and I am very happy they are adding the parking garage. It will increase long-term garage parking by 85%. Anyone know exactly (more exactly than "adjacent") where this will be located?

Airport parking dwindles as travel peaks
By Julie Bisbee
The Oklahoman

As more people travel through Oklahoma City’s Will Rogers World Airport, parking spaces in the airport’s garage are going fast.

In the past few months, the desire for parking has outpaced what is available at the airport, so construction on a new parking garage is expected to start during the first few months of 2006. It will take about a year to complete.

During peak travel times, airport officials have had to create additional parking. For example, so many people traveled during the fall break holiday, between Oct. 19 and Oct. 23, that cars were parked alongside streets and in outlying lots because the airport’s garages and lots were full.

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, the parking garage remained full from weekend travel.

The planned $25 million parking garage will be adjacent to the existing parking garage and will add about 1,500 spaces, said Karen Carney, spokeswoman for Will Rogers World Airport. About 300 of those spaces will be given to rental car companies.

The “long-term” parking garage already holds about 1,420 cars. When construction is complete on the parking garage, there will be about 2,600 covered spaces.

Overall, the airport has about 5,100 spaces in garage and surface parking, Carney said. There are also plans to build additional overflow lots, which will hold between 800 to 1,000 cars.

“We need it,” Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said. “It’s a good problem to have, but it’s something we need to take care as soon as we can.

12-16-2005, 12:28 PM
I still like the way everyone gets excited when we add on a parking garage or something small like that. Now something to get excited about would be completion of the airport to the 25 gates that was originally promised, and what would be even more exciting is if we got an airline to sign on and use OKC as a hub or mini hub.

12-16-2005, 02:04 PM
Brian, I base my comments not on the current progress (which I last saw in Ocotber) but on the fact they've set and missed at least three different completion dates since this project began. As late as this fall they were saying January was the date, now it's slipped at least 5 months.

You notice that they removed the original timeline from their website altogether because I'm sure they found it embarrassing.

I hope it's June but I would bet on it.

12-19-2005, 12:33 AM
Just flew in today...all in all its pretty much done. There are 3 more jetbridges sitting on the ramp waiting for the "new" area to be completed east of the Southwest gates.

People really need to forget about any sort of hub operation in OKC...that implies a connection based city. The best thing OKC could get would be a focus-city op, like what United is doing with RJs in San Antonio.

12-23-2005, 06:00 PM
^ I wouldn't count OKC out as a hub in the future. An airline like Jetblue may want a central U.S. hub someday and the only cities that IMO would be in the running would be Austin, OKC, and Omaha. Minneapolis has Northwest, Chicago has AA and United, Denver has United, Dallas has AA and Southwest, KC has Vanguard and Southwest, San Antonio has United and Southwest, and St. Louis has AA. Indianapolis maybe?

12-23-2005, 08:00 PM
^ I wouldn't count OKC out as a hub in the future. An airline like Jetblue may want a central U.S. hub someday and the only cities that IMO would be in the running would be Austin, OKC, and Omaha. Minneapolis has Northwest, Chicago has AA and United, Denver has United, Dallas has AA and Southwest, KC has Vanguard and Southwest, San Antonio has United and Southwest, and St. Louis has AA. Indianapolis maybe?

If there is any knowledge of the industry to be had, its that you need to understand airlines are not worried about hubs. They are worried about higher yeilding O&D markets. Allegiant is an upstart playing the O&D game perfectly with focus operations in Sanford and Vegas. They aren't hubs - because connecting is very limited. JetBlue offers limited connecting in New York, but is opening up markets that can sustain themselves on an O&D basis only. AirTran is doing the same thing now - see the MDW focus city taking shape. The day of the hub is past...point to point focus operations are key. OKC will need to find an airline like Trans States/United in San Antonio, willing to take a risk.

Also incase you haven't noticed....Vanguard went belly up about 4 years ago. Victim to the Kansas City curse.

12-24-2005, 11:57 AM
Oops, didn't realize Vanguard was done. I had a friend who used to fly them from KC to Washington a lot and raved about it, I guess he flies either Southwest or United now. OKC needs Jetblue with nonstops tp Long Beach (LA) and New York JFK. I think those two cities, the nations 2 largest, would be well-served from OKC and everyone who has been on Jetblue loves it.

12-24-2005, 08:49 PM
New York JFK would be obvious for JetBlue...but Long Beach is a long shot. They are heavily slot controlled there and those will be dedicated to high yeild routes only. They have also shown little interest in developing additional markets out of Ontario and Burbank.

2006 Targets for the city should be...

American to Miami and Los Angeles
US Airways to Charlotte and Philly
United to Washington and San Francisco
Southwest to Baltimore
Allegiant to Sanford, St. Pete, and/or Lauderdale

I would also throw AirTran in there, but in a different level. I would say 2-3 flights a day to markets like Atlanta (obvious being their hub), Baltimore, Chicago Midway, Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, and maybe a west coast market or two would be great.

12-24-2005, 09:18 PM
United to San Francisco and Washington Dulles and American to Miami and Los Angeles would fill some big voids for sure. Those are definitely the biggest routes OKC NEEDS to have. Southwest nonstops to San Antonio, Austin, Chicago Midway, and Baltimore would be nice and the Fort Lauderdale service would be icing on the cake. US Airways to Charlotte though?

12-24-2005, 09:23 PM
United to San Francisco and Washington Dulles and American to Miami and Los Angeles would fill some big voids for sure. Those are definitely the biggest routes OKC NEEDS to have. Southwest nonstops to San Antonio, Austin, Chicago Midway, and Baltimore would be nice and the Fort Lauderdale service would be icing on the cake. US Airways to Charlotte though?

Southwest is never going to do SAT, AUS, or MDW. They'll get you there on one-stops like they have been doing. However, we now have Trans States under the United Express banner flying to San Antonio and New that opens up two new markets nonstop.

Yes, US Airways to Charlotte. It is their largest hub and would open up OKC to a ton of markets in the East and Caribbean. Philadelphia would give their Europe network a one stop connection. We will probably see CLT in 2006 as the airline continues to integrate its East and West networks after the merger with America West.

12-28-2005, 09:51 PM
Since we are closing in on the "completion" date for WRWA, I think it is a good time to look at what the city's needs from the airport will be over the next 2-10 years.

Let's look at where we are now: We have 14 gates (all being used), and will have 17 in a couple more months. Obviously, at least 14 will be in use, but I think it is probable that 15 will be in use, and maybe 16. I doubt all 17 will be in use immediately. Keep in mind, much of this is my opinion, and I have no inside knowledge of any airline or the airport, but I think my assumptions are reasonable. Following is what I assume will happen after the additional 3 gates open.

American - 2 gates
Chicago O'Hare
Dallas/Ft. Worth
St. Louis

Delta - 3 gates
Salt Lake City

Northwest - 1 gate
Minneapolis/St. Paul

Continental - 2 gates
Houston Bush
New York/Newark

Southwest - 3 gates
Dallas Love
Houston Hobby
Kansas City
Las Vegas
St. Louis

United - 2 gates
Chicago O'Hare
New Orleans
San Antonio

US Airways - 1 gate
Las Vegas

Frontier - 1 gate

I assume Allegient and Champion will rent space from other airlines, leaving 15 gates occupied and 2 gates available. There are many possibilities for future service with existing airlines and new (to the OKC market) airlines. Following is my guess on probabilities for each of them, and I think this is reasonable (not "pie-in-the-sky" like many on here).

Charlotte - US Airways
Los Angeles LAX - United or American
Miami - American
Philadephia - US Airways
Washington Dulles - United

Atlanta - AirTran
Baltimore/Washington - Southwest
Chicago Midway - Southwest
Cleveland - Continental
Los Angeles LAX - Southwest
New York JFK - American or JetBlue
Seattle - Alaska, United, or Southwest
Washington Reagan - US Airways

Albuquerque - Southwest
Boston - AirTran
Ft. Lauderdale - Southwest
Indianapolis - Northwest
Nashville - Southwest
Oakland or San Jose - Southwest
Orlando - Southwest
Pittsburgh - US Airways
Philadelphia - Southwest
San Diego - Southwest
San Fransisco - United
Tampa/St. Petersburg - Southwest

Very Low:
Austin - Southwest or American
Jacksonville - Southwest
Raleigh - American
San Antonio - Southwest

Let's assume that in the next couple of years that each of my "high" come true. Presumably, US Airways would need to add a second gate (to serve Phoenix, Las Vegas, Charlotte, and Philadelphia), leaving 16 occupied and 1 available.

With United and/or American also flying non-stop to Miami, Los Angeles, and Washington Dulles, one or both of them would need to add a 3rd gate. They both could not do it, as there is only 1 left.

So, WRWA will probably be too small in a matter of a couple years from now. Just imagine this very probable need in a few years: 1 additional gate for US Airways, American, and United. If we include some of my "medium" options, some combination of Southwest, AirTran, Alaska, and JetBlue (and if Allegiant and Champion warrant a single gate of their own) could need 3-7 gates. That means that we could use 21-25 gates within the next few years.

If I remember correctly, when the airport trust announced the rebuild/expansion of WRWA, they said it would have 25 gates (the center curved part, and 2 concources extending to the west and east from there). If they did that, there would only be 0-4 available gates after some of these additional flights. If they built a mirror image of the west concource on the east side, that would make a total of 28 gates (Were they planning on the east concource being smaller to begin with? It seems to me that it should be exactly like the west concource.), leaving 3-7 available.

While I applaud all that has happened at the airport over the past few years, it is the absolute minimum. The nearly doubling of the garage that has been announced is also the minimum. The Oklahoman has noted that this past weekend, the airport had to let people park on the side streets of the airport because the garage and all lots were completely full. Right now, WRWA is on track for just under 3.6 million people to travel through it in 2005, an annualized growth rate of 5.73%. If the airport were to continue to see air traffic grow at that rate, more than 4.2 million would travel through it in 2008. In 2010 and 2015, more than 4.7 million and 6.2 million would travel throught it, respectively. Even if the growth rate were to slow to 3%, more than 4.1 million would travel though in 2010 and 4.8 million in 2015 (If it were to increase to 7%, more than 7.0 million would pass through it in 2015).

With all that is going on in Oklahoma City, I think it is time for the airport to be expanded to its original intent of 25 gates, if not the full 28 gates. Keep in mind that it would take at least 2 years to get the additional concource designed, built, and ready for occupancy. That is why it is imperative for designing and building to commence as soon as possible. With all the good going on in Oklahoma City, the growth rate could actually increase from the 5.73%. This about this: we have acheived this growth rate (which goes along with the growth of our city and convention business) with a poor national perception of our state and city. This tide is beginning to change, with Bricktown, our downtown revitalization, the NBA, etc.

I know the call to finish expanding the airport has happened numerous times on this board, but I thought it was good to get all the facts and projections in one place to better see what shape we are/will be in. I did not realize how quickly we will need those addition gates (that are currently not being built) until I started this analysis.

It is time to finish the job!

12-28-2005, 10:47 PM
I like your list - although I think SFO via United is a Medium (not a low) - since it is United's major pacific gateway hub. But great list nonetheless.

I also wanted to comment about the "new" concourse. It has already been designed, so presumeably, it would not take as long to construct (unless there are major changes). With this in mind, hopefully we could get the new concourse up, constructed, and running in less than 2 years. Perhaps this is what Luther was thinking - in delaying the original construction plan - that it would not take long to construct the East Concourse since it is designed already and much of the rest of the terminal work is complete.

On a side note - I have a question.... the original airport plan had two concourses, East and West, and a central landing area for a total of 25 - 30 gates at a cost of $110 million. Since we only got 2/3 of that - or 17 gates via West and Central - did it cost 2/3rds as much? or did it still cost $110M and we would have to fork out more for the East? Interesting question, huh?

--- Back to topic ---

Think about it, it should be seamless - the other concourse is complete, the terminal is complete. No construction zones (except airside E), little pax disruption!.

Hopefully, our new airport director will not only get those flights for us - but also announce next year that construction will commence on the East Concourse effective late 2006, with a completion scheduled for early 2008. Now that is news Im sure all of us would love to hear.

12-28-2005, 10:49 PM
Oh, I forgot to add,

Finish the JOB!!!!

12-28-2005, 11:12 PM
One thing I've mentioned in the past, when talking about gate numbers, is gate utilization. It is extremely important to keep this in mind when going forwards. A good example of this in the industry now is Delta rejecting the leases on 16 of, I believe 24 gates in Orlando. However, they will continue to operate the same number of flights - around 110 or so.

Locally, Delta has scaled back greatly. Cincinnati has gone from 5 to 3 flights. Salt Lake City the same. Atlanta is 4 flights. Dallas is no more. Orlando has appeared with one. Do they need 3 gates? Not at all.

I would go into detail further, but its late so I'll do that tomorrow. Same with my thoughts on the rest of the post.