Upgrades in at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport - East Valley Tribune: Business

Upgrades in at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

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Posted: Wednesday, October 4, 2006 6:27 am | Updated: 2:57 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport plans to speed up business on the ground with parking lot express-pay kiosks and a new Stage & Go lot.

The airport will install prepay machines in the East Economy garages before the end of this month, said Danny Murphy, acting aviation director. The kiosks will allow returning passengers to make a fast getaway through express exits rather than queue up at pay booths.

If they are a hit, Sky Harbor officials will install the autopay system at the airport’s other big parking operations, said Carl Newman, assistant aviation director.

“First we have to get it in and see how much people use it,” he said.

That also was the strategy for devising the first Stage & Go lot aimed at keeping passenger pick-up areas at terminals running smoothly even during construction tie-ups.

It allows those meeting arriving passengers to park free close but off-site and watch a big-screen that displays plane arrival times, Murphy said. Those who don’t use it pay and park at terminals or circle the roadways endlessly — adding to the overall congestion, he said.

Now Sky Harbor has added upgrades to make the wait even more comfortable, with restrooms and emergency phones for flat tires or breakdowns. “The restrooms were the most frequently requested addition,” Murphy said.

The lot — on the airport’s west side — has been so popular that officials are adding one on the east side. Newman said there is no date set, but it should be completed in less than a year.

Sky Harbor has even more good news for departing passengers, from the recently completed plethora of new shops in Terminal 4 to the additional security screening lanes that Murphy said will be added before the busy Thanksgiving weekend.

A $25 million overhaul of Terminal 4 shops — which added new tenants such as a much-requested drugstore, a DVD rental shop and an airport version of popular local restaurant Flo’s — finished 10 months ahead of schedule, said Mike Bontrager, president of the Southwest Business Unit of The Weitz Company. Weitz engineered the makeover, which includes upgraded airport decor as well as the shops.

Now Sky Harbor is getting ready to redo the retail core at Terminal 2, Murphy said.

Other improvements, such as stashing the huge luggage screening machines in the back rooms and cooler-to-thetouch outdoor improvements at Terminal 2 — look for rubber benches, among other fixes — don’t have estimated finish dates yet, Murphy said.

The big, pricey items on the agenda — including a new terminal to replace Terminal 2 with more than twice the number of gates and a people mover that will shuttle passengers among terminals, parking lots and the inprocess light rail system — are probably five or six years away,” said Paul Blue, assistant aviation director.

By 2015, Sky Harbor will see an average of 50 million passengers a year getting on or off planes, Murphy said. In 2005, more than 41 million passengers passed through the local air hub.

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