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Change Has Landed at the Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport

4/8/2015
Contact: Lauragail Locke |

Airport Prepares Final Stages of Construction for May Opening

Construction of Wichita’s new airport terminal at Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport, along with the accompanying parking garage and attached rental car building, is in its final stages and is set for commercial flights to begin next month.

The last time Wichita celebrated the opening of a new airport terminal was in 1954. “The opening of Wichita's all-new, contemporary airport terminal will mark a special day in Wichita’s history,” said Carl Brewer, Wichita Mayor.

Everything from updated décor and furniture to an expanded TSA area, additional food and beverage options, and modernized gate seating, offering hundreds of outlets and USB ports for charging mobile devices, is being completed and will soon be ready for travelers to enjoy.

Designed to be a reflection of Wichita’s aviation prominence, the all-new Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport is a state-of-the-art air terminal spanning two levels, 12 gates and 275,000 total square feet.

“The terminal, parking garage and rental car facilities are designed to serve two million travelers every year with a world-class flight experience to and from the Air Capital,” said Victor White, airport director. “With five airlines making 72 flights daily, it’s not just Kansas’ largest airport – it’s the Midwest’s newest access point to the rest of the world.”

Traveler Convenience
White said there are a number of features to make traveling easier. “The building is not only attractive and modern, but it is designed with passenger flow and comforts in mind.”

Three baggage claim areas, baggage service offices, and an Aviator’s Cafe with bar service and retail shops are located on the first floor. An in-line baggage system has been added to take outbound bags through screening before the bags are loaded onto the airplanes. It’s an automated process not currently in place inside the existing terminal.

Upstairs, a mezzanine area will give visitors a place to greet passengers when they arrive and feature tall panels depicting Wichita’s aviation history. It’s here that travelers will move through a large security area and go on to their gates.

Also upstairs will be three retail stores, including two CNBC stores, a Grab & Fly food and wine bar, a Dunkin’ Donuts, and a Chik-fil-A, along with the River City Brewing Co. and an Air Capital Bar overlooking the airfield.

Another passenger convenience is the shortened distance from check-in to gating. “Compared to the old terminal, the distance between ticketing and the terminal gates has been reduced by 40 to 60 percent, allowing a more organized flow of traffic,” said White.

“The addition of a parking garage is a significant benefit for travelers,” said White. Covered crosswalks take travelers to and from the new four-level parking garage, offering amenities like electric charging stations for electric vehicles and 1,600 marked stalls – 70 percent more parking options than the old terminal. “We have received many requests over the years, and now there will be covered parking for the first time at the airport.”

Rental cars will be in covered parking as well. Together, it’s a $200 million project, including $160 million for the terminal and $40 million for the parking garage. Funding is from revenue generated on the airport, and user fees paid by those who use the aviation system. The parking structure will open at the same time as the new terminal.

Modern-age Features
Upon entering, travelers will notice the design embedded in the terrazzo to capture the feeling of an airplane’s contrails. It’s a part of the terminal’s aviation theme, with its curvilinear roof and other features that evoke the motion of flight and the city’s aviation history. The stripping in the floor will subtly guide travelers to the ticket counters on the right of the entrance or the baggage claim area on the left.

Noticeably different from the old terminal is the vast amount of natural lighting and the “Great Wall” – an expansive 40-foot wall that runs along the passenger ticketing and baggage claim areas. “It’s an incredible space to walk into,” said White. “The high ceilings and abundance of light create an open, lively atmosphere. In addition, the glass and skylights are all built with safety features that keep Kansas’ climate and weather in mind,” said White.

The new terminal’s 12 jetways are also all glass - the largest installation of glass-walled jetways in the United States.

Air Capital Art
One of the final details to take shape is the installation of history pieces, designed by Greteman Group, that tell the stories of Wichita as the Air Capital of the World, which will appear on large panels and as public art pieces.

Ed Carpenter, a Portland, Ore., artist, created a 330-foot-long piece that stretches over the airport’s mezzanine from ticketing to baggage claim and is intended to mimic the feeling of flight. The piece is made from dichroic safety glass, stainless steel cables and turnbuckles, and cellular polycarbonate and will change colors in different lights.

“The new terminal is truly a marvel of modern architecture right here in the Heartland and a point of pride for our city that makes travel to and from the Air Capital even better for inbound and outbound travelers,” said White. “It will create a first and final impression that, we hope, stays with visitors long after their journey is complete.”

Final Touches
Construction began Oct. 9, 2012, and the first commercial flights from the new terminal are expected to begin in late May 2015.

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