Feb. 28--SAN BERNARDINO -- San Bernardino International Airport officials celebrated the completion of the airport's $20.5 million international arrivals terminal Thursday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and guest tours of the state-of-the-art facility.
It is the latest development in the airport's nearly decade-long endeavor to rebuild the airport to a state-of-the-art facility in hopes of attracting commercial passenger airlines.
"It is a new world at this airport,' San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris said during Thursday's event. "Scheduled airline service is coming next."
Morris was one of several public officials in attendance Thursday. Also present was former Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, one of the airport's biggest advocates who helped secure funding for its development.
The 40,000-square-foot, three-story terminal features entry via a jet bridge that should be arriving at the airport within the next two weeks, said A.J. Wilson, the airport's executive director. It also includes a spacious passenger area, a baggage claim carousel area, administrative offices on two floors, agricultural and customs inspections stations, detention and interview rooms, and a computer and communications center.
A 787 jet with the words "Clipper America" emblazoned in blue near the nose of the plane sat parked in front of the terminal, near where the bridge will be when it arrives.
Airport development has been a joint partnership between the San Bernardino International Airport Authority, or SBIA, the Inland Valley Development Agency, or IVDA, and San Bernardino Associated Governments, or SanBAG, the county's transportation planning agency.
The Southern California Association of Government's 2012 regional transportation plan forecasts that San Bernardino International Airport will have nearly 146 million annual air passengers in 2035, said Ray Wolfe, SanBag's executive director.
"Folks, that's just over 20 years away," Wolfe said. "This number will outpace the capacity at LAX, Orange County, Long Beach and Burbank (airports)."
One area of focus at the airport is marketing air travel to and from Mexico for the region's high Latino populace.
Now, all the airport needs is some passengers for its terminals. Commercial passenger airlines have shown interest, but none have made a commitment as of yet.
Mark Gibbs, deputy director of aviation for the airport, said he spoke to officials from one commercial airline early this week, and they expressed interest.
The focus to this point has been building the necessary infrastucture to attract major airlines, Gibbs said.
In the next year, 30 general aviation hangars will be built, as well as a new aviation hub for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department spanning more than 61,000 square feet on 8 acres.
"The reality is, you have to have the infrastructure in place," Gibbs said.
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