Several airlines will shuffle into new locations at Raleigh-Durham International Airport starting early next year, as RDU officials finish the new Terminal 2 and turn their attention to a planned $60 million make over of Terminal 1.
US Airways and Continental Airlines are scheduled to move from the old Terminal 1 into Terminal 2 for its Jan. 23 grand opening. RDU accelerated work to complete the $571 million terminal for the National Hockey League All-Star game Jan. 30 in Raleigh.
The first half of Terminal 2 opened in 2008. Its completion will leave three discount carriers in Terminal 1. RDU is beginning to plan an overhaul for the main, blue-colored part of Terminal 1, built in 1982.
To make way for that work, JetBlue will move to Terminal 2 in the spring, and AirTran Airlines will join Southwest Airlines - which is merging with AirTran - in the northern end of Terminal 1.
Those two moves will leave the main section of Terminal 1 empty for renovations expected to begin in 2012.
The big blue building will be overhauled inside and out as an upgraded terminal to be dominated by Southwest, which is expected to handle an estimated 30 percent of all RDU travelers after its acquisition of AirTran. JetBlue will have the option of remaining in Terminal 2 or returning to the overhauled Terminal 1 when work finishes there in 2013.
"We'll have space there in Terminal 1 for a couple more low-fare carriers if they come along," John Brantley, the airport director, told RDU Authority members Thursday.
After Southwest and AirTran move into the renovated section of Terminal 1, RDU probably will demolish the northern section of the building, which dates from 1955.
"It certainly has seen plenty of life, but at this point in time, the older sections of it are 55 years old and growing older every day," Brantley said.
RDU staffers said the overhaul will bring the old terminal up to the standards of the new one. Travelers should find it easier to get around in a redesigned Terminal 1, notorious for its confusing and crowded layout.
"It will be much simpler than it is today in terms of people getting through it," said Dave Powell, who oversees major RDU building.
Keeping costs down
Authority board members pressed Brantley to expand his plans for Terminal 1 improvements to include a larger sidewalk canopy and top-of-the-line energy conservation and sustainability features. But Brantley said he wanted to keep the cost at $60 million.
"We tried to beat this to fit what we know we can afford to do," Brantley said. "$60 million is where we need to be. If we get fortunate and construction prices are less than we've estimated, then we've obviously got the ability to add other things later."
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