San Diego

Wednesday, June 8, 2005
Terminal 2 becomes focal point for airport expansion
By Jeff Ristine
The San Diego (CA) Union-Tribune

The operators of San Diego International Airport have decided to make Terminal 2 the focal point of a proposed 10-gate expansion.

In a unanimous vote Monday, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority agreed that a build-out of Terminal 2 West, the newest section of the airport, should be the preferred option in a master plan to meet projected increases in air operations through 2015. The decision initiates a state environmental review on the $536 million project that is expected to take a year to complete. The public will have a chance to comment on the proposal during the review.

Still undecided is whether all 10 gates would be built along the west side of the Terminal 2 West concourse, or if two of them would be squeezed in at the Terminal 1 East rotunda, current home to Southwest Airlines.

Either way, the project is expected to include expanded parking for airport visitors, possibly with a structure in front of Terminal 2. On the airfield, the plan includes extra space for aircraft to stay overnight and an expansion in service for general aviation.

The master plan is a stopgap of sorts, coming as the agency continues to analyze options for an airport to replace or supplement San Diego International. The authority believes that Lindbergh Field could use at least two more gates right away and that it will feel a much tighter squeeze over the next 10 years if nothing is done.

The biggest alternative to the Terminal 2 build-out – also to be studied in the environmental review – would add most of the new gates to a new concourse stretching east of Terminal 1.

But a Terminal 2 build-out would be less disruptive during construction, said Ted Anasis, manager of airport planning. It would also make a better balance in passenger activity at the two terminals.

The airport could still add gates at Terminal 1 in the future.

Anasis said a four-month public review on the draft environmental impact report will begin in September. The authority board was briefed on the proposed expansion last month and was prepared for a vote with minimal discussion.

Board member Xema Jacobson said she had changed her mind since last month’s meeting, when she said Terminal 1 needed to be “destroyed and redone.”

Other board members said they want to see some progress in negotiations with the airport’s fixed-base operator, which serves noncommercial civilian aircraft, on a possible expansion of its services to general aviation.

Thella Bowens, chief executive officer for the airport authority, said the environmental review will consider expanding the property used by Jimsair, or bringing in a second fixed-base operator to perform the same kind of work. Bowens said that there are “a lot of moving pieces” to the Jimsair proposal and that the lack of an agreement shouldn’t delay the master plan.