Orlando numbers climb; new terminals planned

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ORLANDO -- During 1999, Orlando Airport handled more than 29.2 million passengers, a record for a calendar year at the facility and an increase of more than 5% compared with 1998.

But airport officials expect that record to be broken this year. They project some 30 million passengers for 2000 and are well on their way to increasing capacity to accommodate the additional flyers.

In related news, a fourth air-side terminal connected by a people mover to the North, or main land-side, Terminal will open in June, providing 16 gates. Tenants will include AirTran, Southwest, Spirit and Sun Country.

In addition, site work is under way for the South Terminal complex, which will open in stages starting in 2002, when 10 to 12 wide-body gates will be available for either domestic or international flights.

British Airways signed a lease to use the terminal until 2008. Eventually, up to 120 gates will be available, giving the South Terminal the capability of handling up to 40 million passengers annually and boosting the airport's overall capacity to 70 million passengers annually, a spokeswoman said.

The South and North terminals will be linked by an interior connector train, the spokeswoman said.

South Terminal will have features such as children's play areas, first class lounges, shops and dining outlets, an easy transit between motor vehicles and the terminal and federal inspection services.

A minimizing of walking distances between aircraft gates and baggage claim is planned, as well.

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