WICHITA, Kansas – Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport opened it’s doors to the general public for the first time Saturday afternoon.
The airport held an open house, allowing those who came to see a glimpse of a project nearly three years in the making.
Several thousand people turned out to see what the new airport is going to offer.
The 275,000 square foot terminal has two levels, featuring 12 new gates.
The new terminal with have five airlines making 72 flights daily.
Also included is several bars and restaurants, including Dunkin’ Donuts and Chik Fil-a.
Wichita resident Mike Francisco says the community was in dire need of a new airport.
“I think they were due for an upgrade and I think this is very much what they needed and were looking for and I think it’s going to entice people to use this,” said Francisco.
Airport Program Director Pat McCollom says together, the new terminal and parking facility projects have a price tag of $200 million, none of which came at the taxpayers expense.
McCollom says modernizing the airport will allow travelers to get in and out of Wichita a little easier.
“It’s a very intuitive building, simple, the distance from ticket counter to gate is roughly 40 to 60 percent the distance that’s in the existing terminal,” said McCollom.
McCollom adds that the new facility should help give a boost to the local economy.
“I think it speaks to the capabilities of the community, so when you have this shiny front door coming into, our visitors come in and see what we can do as a community,” said McCollom.
As for residents like Francisco, he thinks the project will end up being well worth it.
“This is definitely worth it, it’s been a good investment for the city and I think it’s going to bring business to the city, people will come here for conferences and meetings and have their affairs here in this city, I think it’ll be a great place for that,” said Francisco.
McCollom says right now, it’s too early to determine if they will see increased flights out of the new facility, but, he says that’s the hope.
As for the current terminal, McCollom says they will begin demolishing it after the new terminal opens next month.
He says it should take a year to get that facility fully demolished.