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New airport terminal to open Oct. 6

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The first flights will take off Oct. 6 from Sacramento International Airport’s nearly $1.1 billion Central Terminal B complex, officials announced Friday at the California State Fair.

The airport expansion, dubbed “The Big Build,” was initially budgeted at $1.27 billion. It will replace a 44-year-old, far smaller terminal and will be completed seven months ahead of the originally scheduled opening. The complex was expected to start operating in March of 2012 when construction began in 2008.

Hard economic times led Sacramento County Airport System officials to scrap plans for an airport hotel and a new parking garage.

Airport officials chose an early October opening date so the new terminal can begin operation before the 2011 holiday season.

"Sacramento International Airport is the gateway to Northern California for the world, offering convenient access to our community, the Capitol and world-class destinations such as Napa and Tahoe," airport system Director Hardy Acree said at a press conference Friday afternoon. "We’re here today to announce the first flight date, which is rapidly approaching."

To make the announcement, Acree was joined by Sacramento County Board of Supervisors Chair Roberta MacGlashan, County Supervisor Phil Serna and state Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, a former county supervisor.

One of the project’s architects, John Mares of Dallas-based Corgan Associates, and Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau Chief Executive Officer Steve Hammond were among those who attended the event in the fairgrounds’ counties building.

The project has been "critical" for the county, providing thousands of jobs for more than three years at a time when those jobs were most needed, Serna said.

The 675,000-square-foot, energy-efficient complex is being built for $1.08 billion and will be three times the size of the current Terminal B. Electric train cars will be used to move passengers between a landside terminal to an airside concourse.

The Central Terminal B complex will open with 19 gates that can handle 10 million passengers annually and has the potential to expand to 27 gates. The original Terminal B has 10 operational gates. The airport’s total passenger capacity will be 16 million a year, compared to nearly 9 million last year, airport spokeswoman Gina Swankie said.

The airport’s increased capacity provides an opportunity to bring more travelers and money to the region. Every 3 percent increase in available airline seats increases local hotel occupancy by 1 percent, Hammond said.

Remaining construction will be completed in the next few months.

"Central Terminal B will offer a beautiful first impression for guests, and a forward-thinking design that will serve our community for many more generations to come," MacGlashan said. 


Suzanne Hurt is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @SuzanneHurt.

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