S.F. airport looks at new life for old terminal 

Terminal 2, San Francisco International Airport’s former international terminal, has sat empty and unused since 2000. Its lobby is still furnished; ticket check-in counters still line the massive space; and a banner proclaiming the airport the best in the nation still faces the revolving doors.

But airport officials, hoping that new and existing airlines will expand operations in upcoming years, are considering remodeling the terminal that has essentially served as a 610,000-square-foot walkway for the better part of a decade.

The Airport Commission on Tuesday approved three contracts totaling $1.1 million with the HNTB Corporation, Jacobs Consultancy and Ricondo and Associates for preliminary planning and feasibility studies of what wouldbe the first major project at the airport since the new international terminal opened in 2000. In addition to remodeling Terminal 2, the consultants would explore the feasibility of remodeling domestic Terminal 1.

Airport planners expect passengers to increase between 1 percent to 2 percent annually through 2012. Though those figures don’t represent dramatic growth, McCarron said the airport is anticipating more airlines will come to the airport and that existing ones, such as newcomer JetBlue, will expand operations.

"We’re hoping that with increasing demand, we’ll need the extra space," McCarron said.

While additional facilities can help make operations more efficient, airlines won’t necessarily clamor for the available space, according to Michael Boyd, a Colorado-based aviation consultant.

"They’re just not going to break down the door to get in there if enough people aren’t flying," Boyd said, forecasting a 3.3 percent increase nationwide in passengers that should eventually level off to a steady growth of 3 percent annually.

Carriers including United and Spirit Airlines would not disclose whether there were possible plans for expansion at SFO. But United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said the airline has had an increasing number of flights running out of SFO, with the average number of daily flights projected to be 261 by February.

Terminal 2 was slated for remodeling, but after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, people stopped flying, demand for more space fell and the project was postponed.

E-mail Tara Ramroop at tramroop@examiner.com.

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