JetBlue Will Be The First Occupant of Orlando’s New Terminal
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
JetBlue is set to be the inaugural major occupant of Orlando International Airport’s (MCO) new South Terminal, which is currently under construction with an expected completion date in 2020. As part of the South Terminal announcement on May 16, the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority also said that the South Terminal will likely need to add three to seven additional gates every five years in order to accommodate expected growth.
The original South Terminal construction plans called for 16 inaugural gates, capable of accommodating up to 21 aircraft. But anticipated demand has already led airport authorities to approve an additional three-gate expansion, from 16 to 19 gates total. The three additional gates would accommodate JetBlue’s increase in flights, expected to rise from 63 daily departures to 100 in coming years. JetBlue currently operates the highest number of flights to Cuba from the US, out of Orlando.
More than 45 million passengers pass through MCO each year, and the airport has long felt the growing pains of the volume increase. Back in February of this year, MCO almost fired the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and opted to privatize security at the airport instead, hoping to boost checkpoint screening times. Through negotiation and decisive measures taken to accelerate the screening process, the airport elected in March to retain the federal agency.
The airport has big plans to keep up with its rapidly increasing annual traffic, including becoming the first airport nationwide to utilize facial ID recognition for all international flights by this summer, at a cost of around $4 million for customized gates and cameras. Several airports already utilize biometric screening technology on a pilot program basis.
The airport’s rapid expansion has also led MCO to aggressively hire new workers. 200 food court positions were up for grabs at an open job fair in April.
The hiring initiative no doubt is a proactive step toward what may well be Orlando’s busiest travel season yet. Passenger count at MCO has steadily increased in recent years by about 2 million additional passengers per year. Within the first few months of 2018 alone, MCO has already jumped two spots on the “nation’s busiest airport” list, from 13th-busiest in January to its current 11th-busiest ranking as of April 24.
The South Terminal constructions are designed to facilitate rising passenger volume, although airport director Phil Brown cautioned that steady growth does not guarantee consistency.
“This is all predicated on a growth plan,” Brown told the Orlando Sentinel. “As we have seen in the past, sometimes that doesn’t happen. We saw it [with] September 11 when we dropped almost 12% in traffic, and [with] the Recession when it dropped 9%.”
The new terminal’s construction is set to be completed in stages that can be paused for lack of demand. Phase One of the South Terminal is planned to open 24 gates, with capacity for a total of 120 total gates in the distant future. The existing terminal currently has 93 gates.
Between the new South Terminal and myriad upgrades for the existing terminal, MCO anticipates spending $4.27 billion in construction and renovations. The airport estimates that the upgrades will drive revenue growth from airline and passenger charges, bonds, and aviation-authority funds to rise from $3.5 billion to $4.3 billion between 2016 and 2025.
Featured image courtesy of Orlando International Airport.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
- Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees