Local residents and other users of the Ketchikan International Airport are being asked their opinions on a preferred concept redesign for the terminal there.
The terminal design concept has been developed through a “Terminal Area Plan” project launched in May 2019 by the Ketchikan Gateway Borough — which operates the state-owned airport.
Citing growth in general passenger traffic and higher peak volumes at the airport since the economic recession of the late 2000s, the borough viewed the terminal as being unable to meet existing and projected demands.
“Therefore, a comprehensive terminal area study is warranted to address the congestion issues the airport is experiencing,” states the May 2, 2019, Ketchikan Borough Assembly meeting agenda item to award the $449,000 planning project contract to the aviation consulting firm of Mead & Hunt Inc.
The consultants came up with four alternatives, selecting one as the preferred terminal concept based on its anticipated effects on passenger experience, operational efficiency, feasibility and other attributes.
Information about the preferred concept is available on the project website at https://tinyurl.com/ktnconcept. Comments can be submitted by Friday via a survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/ketchikanterminal.
The airport terminal has undergone modifications since it first opened in 1973. The now approximately 30,600-square-foot structure that has about 26,600 square feet space available on its first and second floors had a major renovation and expansion in 2003.
Interior modifications were made to the tower in 2009, and the TSA screening area on the second floor was added in 2012, according to project information. Minor upgrades in the north airline ticketing counter area were completed in 2015, followed by a roof renovation and interior remodel in 2019.
There have been other planning efforts involving the airport over time. The most recent “significant planning process” was the 2003 Airport Master Plan that covered airport access, new facilities, apron expansion and the parallel taxiway, according to project information.
The current terminal area plan focuses solely on the terminal itself.
In 2008, there were about 109,000 annual passenger “enplanements” at the airport, according to data included in the project material. After dipping below 100,000 enplanements in the recession years of 2009 and 2010, enplanement numbers began a steady series of year-to-year increases that put the number above 134,350 enplanements in 2018.
The project information includes a FAA’s Terminal Area Forecast for the Ketchikan International Airport, which was published in February of 2019.
At that time, the forecast for passenger enplanements at KIA was about 143,000 for 2023, about 154,863 in 2028, 168,934 in 2033 and 184,981 in 2038.
The project information is careful to note that Terminal Area Forecast “typically lags one to two years in reporting current activity levels, therefore the TAF may not always accurately reflect the snapshot of current activity, nor take into account key airport factors or locally driven forecast events.”
The forecast is included in one of several detailed documents included on the project’s page in the borough’s website at https://www.borough.ketchikan.ak.us/897/Terminal-Area-Plan.
In addition to the 49-page Forecasts of Aviation Activity report, the project documents prepared to date include an inventory of the terminal area’s existing facilities, an analysis of short- and long-term terminal needs, a presentation of alternative concepts for the broader terminal area, and a document focused on alternative concepts for the terminal building itself.
The preferred “Concept 3” envisions a terminal with the TSA security screening checkpoint relocated to the first floor.
“This option centralizes the 18 station ticketing counters for commercial and air taxi services, providing adequate room for queuing and cross-circulation at the counter,” states the option description. “After check-in, both commercial passengers and air taxi passengers would circulate right or to the south to enter the TSA secure checkpoint located just outside of the existing southwest corner of the terminal.”
The security checkpoint screening would be expanded to two check point lanes, according to the description.
Relocating the security checkpoint to the ground level would open up the terminal’s second floor for other uses, including three departure lounges (each with passenger boarding bridges to aircraft), and secured and non-secured concessions, according to the descriptions. The design also would allow for the addition of offices, a conference room or other items on the second floor.
“This concept best lends itself to phased development and expansion of the terminal building with minimal disruption to operations during construction of each phase, which is crucial to the feasibility of most terminal expansion projects and the continued operation of the airport,” states the summary and conclusions section of the Terminal Building Alternative Concepts document. Additionally, the Study Committee strongly favored the relocation of TSA security screening checkpoint to the first floor to improve the passenger experience and flow within the terminal building.”