Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport to open new runway

18 September 2014 (Last Updated September 18th, 2014 18:30)

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida, US, will open its south runway next week, which was built at a cost of approximately $719m.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida, US, will open its south runway next week, which was built at a cost of approximately $719m.

The new runway is the first phase of a $2.3bn expansion project.

While talking to the St Augustine Record, Broward County Aviation Department spokesman Greg Meyer said the expansion of the 8,000ft runway was taken up to reduce congestion and the terminal upgrade will help the airport to accommodate the 23.5 million passengers who use the airport every year.

"The more opportunity we give those airplanes to land, the greener our valley gets."

The expansion project was undertaken after massive delays were experienced around the mid-1990s, due to lack of space. Currently, the airport handles approximately 260,000 domestic flights annually, which led to the need for an additional runway.

"For every minute the plane sits on the ground idling, it is money they are losing, and it's impacting the air space system throughout the country," said Meyer.

With the new runway, the airport will be able to handle 425,000 flights annually. The airport will also see an increase in air traffic as JetBlue plans on increasing its number of flights from 60 to 100 every day. Southwest Airlines will also build a concourse for international flights in Terminal 1.

Speaking about the 1,800 homes that could be impacted by the noise from the runway, Meyer said that the aviation authority and Broward County had agreed to insulate the homes with hurricane windows and doors, as well as install central air-conditioning units for houses that depend on window units.

While 80% of the expenses will be paid by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), 10% will be picked up by the county through the passenger facility charges. These changes have been made in roughly 120 houses, most of which are in Dania Beach. The other houses will be worked upon in phases.

FAA has invested a total of $250m into the project. Restroom and concession upgrades and a complete reconstruction of Terminal 4 to accommodate more international flights will be a part of the plan.

The project will be completed in two phases. The first phase on the west side will be completed in 2015, while the second phase is expected to be completed by 2017.

Airport authorities are also hoping that the expansion would help in attracting more travellers to the county.

Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau president and CEO Nicki Grossman said: "Every one of those airplanes that's bringing us a visitor creates additional economic impact.

"People that fly in tend to spend more than people who drive in. The more opportunity we give those airplanes to land, the greener our valley gets."