Ohio Airport Hopes Makeover Boosts Passenger Traffic

Behind the flakeboard walls and the temporary service counters, construction workers are replacing counters and offices with smaller quarters to accommodate airlines' desires to cut overhead costs.

But when Allegiant Air arrived at Toledo Express in December to introduce Las Vegas and Sanford, Fla., routes, the airline only sent along two company computers, Mr. Toth said.

The rest of Allegiant's ground operations are managed by a contractor. The only airline employees who go to Toledo Express are its flight crews.

Mr. Toth sees that as the wave of the future, and said the passenger terminal will have features to accommodate the lean operations, including self-service electronic check-in kiosks in which travelers first select their airline and then follow that airline's check-in procedure to obtain boarding passes. Counter space will be designed to accommodate common-use computers, so airlines don't have to provide their own, and the baggage area will be set up to support common use.

Airlines would have to pay for using airport-owned equipment, the airport director said, "but they wouldn't have the up-front capital cost."

The counters and airline operations offices themselves are being configured into much smaller units, because travelers increasingly check in electronically.

When it was Toledo's dominant airline, US Airways used 2,650 square feet of office space and a long counter with multiple agent positions. The largest airline space in the new layout will be just 780 square feet, Mr. Toth said.

Features proposed for later phases include relocating the passenger security checkpoint, building a glass-enclosed stairway structure to the upstairs waiting room, renovating the terminal's facade, and adding skylights over the main concourse. But that work probably will wait until the airlines' financial picture stabilizes, Mr. Toth said.

"We've really got to get a better handle on where the airline industry is headed before we spend $17 million more on modernizing this terminal," he said. "But phase I allows us to retain airlines and try to attract new ones."

Contact David Patch at: dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094.


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