Work has begun on a $791m South Runway Expansion project at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Broward County, Florida, US, in order to reduce flight delays and meet rising traffic demands.

The new project will extend, shift and lengthen runway 9R/27L from 5,276ft to 8,000ft, which will provide two parallel runways to accommodate larger aircraft. The runway will open in September 2014 and will handle 450,000 takeoffs and landings a year.

US Department of Transportation secretary Ray LaHood commented that the project is one of the largest and most important airport construction projects in the country.

"Modernising our airport infrastructure will keep our economy moving forward, and put thousands of Americans back to work," said LaHood.

The parallel runways will increase the airport’s capacity and help the airport handle 107 flights an hour from 84 flights an hour.

Broward County Aviation Department spokesman Greg Meyer said that the design meets all FAA standards for safe and efficient airplane arrivals and departures.

"If the airport does not increase its runway capacity, its average annual delay is projected to surge from the current rate of six minutes to 26 minutes by 2020," Meyer said.

The US Government will provide $250m for the project, Florida will contribute $129m and the remainder will come from passenger ticket charges.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport handles 22 million passengers every year, with over 600 flights to 60 US cities and international destinations.

Image: Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport’s South Runway Expansion project will reduce flight delays and meet air traffic demands. Photo: Broward.