It has been more than 20 years since John Wayne Airport (JWA) in California’s Orange County last went through a major upgrade. Unlike 1990 when the new-look terminals were completed late, over-budget and embroiled in lawsuits, the 2011 development of Terminal C - which officially opens for business on Nov 14 - has been finished on schedule and within budget.
Rather bizarrely the five-year project has come in $110 million under projected costs thanks to more competitive bidding by contractors squeezed by the recession. On the other hand, the same recession has kept passenger loads low during the latter phases of the construction work which was managed without disrupting day-to-day operations. From a peak of around 10 million in 2007, current traffic levels are hovering at around 8.7 million passengers per year.
The new terminal (circled), plus 2,000 space parking lot. (JWA)
Terminal C ticketing area. (all photos Guy Norris unless stated)
Frontier Airlines and Southwest Airlines are the first tenants.
Vaulted ceilings continue the theme of Terminals A and B
Flight of Ideas (above and below) by Beth Nybeck and Dick Jobe is a permanent aviation-themed art display suspended from the ceiling above T-C baggage claim. In case you were wondering, the sectional chart forming the wings of the bird above shows the Seattle-Tacoma region.
The addition of Terminal C adds six more bridged gates, giving JWA a total of 20 bridged gates and the ability to handle 10.8 million. It also gives the airport its best chance yet to become a new international gateway for California as the $543 million upgrade also includes JWA’s first customs and immigration facility. Although JWA has flights to Canada operated by WestJet, all passengers clear U.S. customs and immigration in Vancouver and other destinations north of the border. Now, with its own immigration facilities, the airport authority is offering incentives to entice airlines to start new direct services to destinations in Mexico.
Passengers from the first international flights could be using this immigration gateway from June 2012 onwards.
Southwest is already using the new gates and from next week will be using the terminal itself.
New commuter gate area.
The 282,000 sq ft Terminal C also adds new commuter and regional gates at its western end. The state-of-the-art building includes additional security screening checkpoints, food and news concessions, three baggage carousels, and a Common Use Passenger Processing System (CUPPS) which allows passengers to check in with any airline operating from JWA.
The new Terminal C parking structure is the first in California to employ an earthquake-resistant buckling restrained bracing system.