Airport Expansion Well Underway - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Airport Expansion Well Underway

"We'll start out operating three new baggage claim belts with the possibility of a fourth, and as you can see, we have a new space here. As a matter of fact, this area is probably five times larger than the old space," said Jim Pitts, Director of Marketing and Business Development at the airport.

There will also be five rental car counters inside the new baggage claim area. The airport's current rental car center is located outside the airport.

"With this expansion, we're trying to double our capacity from a capacity of currently one million passengers to 2.2 million passengers. So, we had to be able to accommodate that many passengers in the baggage claim area. That's why this base became so large," Pitts said.

The airport is now better able to handle passengers trying to catch their flights thanks to a new TSA Security Checkpoint. The old checkpoint had only one line. The new one has two. In addition, two additional gates will be opened in the next few weeks.

"Gates three and four will have new jet ways, and we'll have a lot of new circulation, holding room area space to accommodate a lot more passengers than what we normally handle, so like the entire terminal building, the space has been doubled in size to double our capacity. It's a whole new section," Pitts said.

The terminal expansion is earmarked at about $50 million and is expected to be completed by July of this year. Airport officials want to thank travelers for their continued patience during the expansion project.

By Toni Miles

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