Bellingham International Airport (BLI) definitely subscribes to the bigger is better philosophy. Especially right now. BLI sits poised to start a three-year, $30 million terminal expansion Nov. 1. And that addition comes on the heels of a $30 million runway resurface and rehabilitation project.
What does it all mean? More flights, bigger airplanes and more passengers.
With Allegiant and Horizon airlines both operating out of BLI, the current 27,000-square-foot terminal is only 25 percent of the size needed to handle the 9,000 monthly in-plane passengers. The remodel of the terminal will expand it to 85,000 square feet and upgrade its services such as a motorized baggage claim, electronically displayed flight information and a third security screening, says Airport Manager Daniel Zenk.
The September runway remodel closed the airport for three weeks, but strengthened the facility and widened a parallel taxiway enough to now handle Boeing 757 aircraft, a move that fits Allegiant’s plans. Plus, the runway was overdue for overhaul. “Quite frankly, the runway was old and tired,” Zenk says.
With continued expansion at the airport—Alaska Airlines plans to start daily flights to Hawaii with 737-800 aircraft in 2011—both upgraded runways and a larger terminal meant bigger was more than just better. It was necessary.