Work on new SLO County Airport Terminal Nearly Halfway Done

Work on new SLO County Airport Terminal Nearly Halfway Done

Image showing the steel structure construction of the new SBP airport terminal.

A $35.4 million project to replace the decades-old passenger terminal at the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport is about 40 percent complete, with a new, four-gate terminal anticipated to open in late summer or early fall 2017.

The expansion will allow the airport to handle more frequent flights and larger aircraft as well as improve the flow of passengers. So far, about $13.2 million has been spent on the work.

“Just during the duration of construction, we’re seeing five models of aircraft moving through the airport as airlines continue to upgrade their fleets,” Kevin Bumen, San Luis Obispo County’s director of airports, told county supervisors during an update of the project Tuesday.

“When we move into this building, we’ll have at least two carriers where the smallest aircraft is 76 seats,” he added. The existing, approximately 12,500-square-foot terminal was designed for 28-seat aircraft.

Since construction started in October 2015, an existing hangar has been demolished, the foundation for the 56,000-square-foot terminal has been laid, the structural steel framing is in place, and roof work is ongoing. Work on a baggage tunnel and the gate area is underway; the rental car parking lot will be paved in a few weeks.

The building can accommodate three security checkpoint screening lanes, but Bumen said county officials are working with the Transportation Security Administration to determine whether one or two lanes will be in place when the new terminal opens.

Future passengers walking through the ticketing area will be greeted by walls of windows framing a view of the Santa Lucia range east of Broad Street. The terminal will offer a lounge area and small concessions stand; the existing Spirit of San Luis restaurant remains open nearby.

“It’s an understatement to say it’s visible from Broad Street,” Supervisor Bruce Gibson said of the terminal. “It’s going to be a very prominent building.”

It could also be the most visited county building, with about 292,462 total passengers in 2015 (down 3.4 percent from 302,652 in 2014).

From January through July, the airport has handled 188,012 passengers, according to a summary on its website. But monthly airport passenger traffic has been growing since February compared with the year-earlier periods.

The new Alaska Airlines flights to Seattle, which begin in April, will bring the number of daily flights leaving from the airport to 12.

Bumen hopes the new service will bring the passenger traffic to prerecession levels. The airport had 368,423 passengers in 2007. The number dropped to 241,061 in 2009.