In February, Detroit unveils much more than a new terminal
By John F. Infanger
DETROIT — This is a facility built with the customer in mind, from check-in kiosks inside the new parking garage to the internal tram that will whisk passengers from gate to retail to gate. A new roadway will allow easy entry from either the north or south, and a new runway should reduce delays. In other words, it’s everything yesterday’s Detroit airport wasn’t.
The Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) on February 24 is scheduled to officially open its $1.2 billion Midfield Terminal, recently renamed the Edward H. McNamara Terminal, in honor of the county executive who has led the redevelopment of the airport. The opening caps a ten-year, $2 billion airport improvement plan. In conjunction with the McNamara Terminal opening, a west concourse that will connect Mesaba commuter operations via a tunnel will be unveiled.
The new terminal and its 97 gates are being leased by Northwest Airlines, for which Detroit is a primary hub along with Memphis and Minneapolis. Other tenants will include Northwest partners KLM, British Airways, and Lufthansa.
The terminal opening follows the December dedication by FAA Admin-istrator Jane Garvey of DTW’s fourth parallel runway. Garvey termed the runway opening as cause for celebration following the September 11 attacks and pointed to it as an example of the ongoing planning the industry needs to be focused on to meet growing demands.
The 10,000-ft. runway is expected to help alleviate congestion nationwide because of its hubbing operations, and DTW officials estimate that it will reduce air traffic control delays by 3,000 hours annually.
The airport currently handles some 35 million airline passengers, taking existing facilities to the limit. Explains Barbara Hogan, DTW’s manager of external relations, "It doesn’t work well, but it’s a wonder that it works at all." Of the new terminal, she says, "This is a masterpiece; it is the culmination of our plans."
A $145 million south access road allows a second entry to the airport, and was the catalyst to opening up new land for the midfield terminal. It leads to a 11,500-space, 10-level, parking garage that features some ten E-ticket machines and luggage check-in.
Retail at the new terminal will encompass some 125,000 sq.ft. and include some 85 shops and restaurants. An aerial tram will move passengers to a central court of shops. CA One Services is the primary contractor. Select Service Partner pulled out of the agreement to be the primary restaurant leaseholder, and the airport is currently reviewing bids for a replacement. A connected 404-room Westin Hotel is slated to open in 2002.