Comments Kish, “The stadium has really drawn much more public discussion than the airport. One, the stadium building is a huge piece of the downtown skyline. It’s also the Colts NFL football, which is in front of everyone on Sunday. It’s also paid for with tax money, so they talk about it. The airport is none of those. It’s not on a skyline that many people see; it’s not in their face on weekends; it’s not paid for with taxpayer money.
“What public discussion there has been is positive. We’re having a series of community days to present this new facility to the public.”
New and redeveloped
The new midfield terminal is one component of a redefinition of the airport and its role here. A large maintenance base that was abandoned by United Airlines has been filled; Hawker-Beechcraft has broken ground on a $14 million expansion of its service facility; and, Federal Express is investing some $162 million for an additional 600,000-square foot sortation facility that will be able to handle 15 more wide-body aircraft. Indianapolis is already the second largest hub for FedEx.
Since 1995, the airport had been managed under a private contract with U.K.-based BAA; however, that agreement was terminated at the end of 2007 by joint agreement of the two parties, according to Kish, as BAA redirected its business model.
In 2007, Indianapolis Inter-national moved some 8.27 million passengers through its terminal. Cargo operations last year were at 1.16 million tons. The airport serves 39 non-stop destinations and averages some 180 daily departures.
The new terminal features a post-9/11 design, one that offers an open air environment and gives the passenger a sense of place, much like newer terminals in Ottawa, Vancouver, and Seattle.
Says Kish, “We think the openness is helpful to the passenger in wayfinding. We think people understand immediately where they are and can guess how long it takes to get to where they want to go. We all who are old enough remember going to the airport to see the airplanes. And you weren’t a passenger; you were just seeing airplanes. We wanted to let kids do that again, and would accept the operational challenge of managing the queues through security checkpoints.
“This is Indianapolis; we ought to be able to do that just fine. I think it’s working out that way. We made the checkpoints very large and put in a lot of natural lighting and improved wayfinding, and reduced tension. I think TSA is very excited about what the checkpoint will look like and how people will adapt to it. The proof will be in the pudding November 12th.”
The ticketing area of the terminal was designed around islands that direct baggage to an in-line screening system. While the design is very much in line with the common use concept being adopted at many airports today, particularly internationally, airlines will still have dedicated space in the lobby.
Explains Kish, “The airlines were not all that excited about the ticket island concept here; that’s perhaps how we settled on building ticket islands but we’re not doing common use equipment.
“I tell people on tours of the new facility that we have ticket islands and each side is dedicated to an airline. That gives us eight sides, but we have eleven airlines. The industry seems to be solving that problem for us. Where today airlines are sharing a side, five years from there may be only eight airlines here.
“There are more self-service kiosks in the existing terminal today than we had programmed for the opening day at midfield. We’ve arranged the ticket islands at midfield in terms of the number of self-service kiosks and the ease by which you can take a bag to the bag belt.
“We think that the ticket hall is well organized. The whole building is designed to be expandable. We think we simply will not need the expansion for the ticket hall. The space required to perform those functions does not seem to be getting larger as the number of passengers increases.”
The retail and concessions area, dubbed Civic Plaza, features some 25,000 square feet of restaurants and specialty stores, and the two concourses will have 15,000 square feet of retail space as well. The first-ever Indianapolis 500 Grill will be accompanied by a Brickyard Authentics apparel and collectible store and an Indianapolis 500 museum.
Brands are national and local, and lease agreements are a mix of ad hoc with the airport as well as partnering with industry contractors that include Areas, HDS Retail, HMS Host, Paradies, and SSP America.
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