San Diego Airport Set To Replace Ageing Terminal 1

San Diego has made plans to rebuild its 1960s terminal one, installing up to 30 new gates and tripling the capacity of the terminal.

Southwest will be operating to the new terminal one in 2024. Photo: Getty

What are the details?

Last year San Diego airport was under criticism from multiple federal and states agencies for stalling on a plan to deal with increasing passenger congestion in and around the airport.

The 1960s building only has 19 gates and has been experiencing year on year record passenger numbers. The terminal accounts for more than 50% of the airport traffic and, without access to public transport, these passengers go on to affect the traffic around nearby roads.

San Diego
A map of the San Diego airport. Photo: FAA via Wikipedia

Since then, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority has updated its terminal one plans to factor in passenger movement beyond the airport and move forward with plans to build a new terminal.

“What’s driving activity here is not the number of gates but the desire to come to San Diego,” said Dennis Probst, vice president of development for the airport to San Diego Tribune. “The airlines are providing the flights and will fill them up, and that is not going to change whether we do the project or not.”

25 million visitors

The airport had 25 million visitors last year and is projected to have up to 40 million in years to come. This $3 billion plan will future proof the airport.

The new terminal will be funded by airline landing and gate fees. As Southwest heavily uses terminal one, likely their fees will bear the brunt of the cost initially but they will have the most to benefit when the project will be completed. The airline appeared during the terminal one consultation process to enthusiastically encourage the project.

“Air passenger volumes will continue to grow regardless of whether Terminal 1 is replaced,” said Steve Sisneros, managing director for airport affairs at Southwest. “The FAA and the marketplace dictate how many airplanes can take off and land. However, a new Terminal 1 and airfield improvements will ensure that the airport can provide a better experience for passengers as their numbers increase.”

Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines is supporting the project. Photo: Southwest

What is the new terminal like?

The upgrade of the terminal one will be a significant upgrade. It will include:

  • A brand new terminal building with 1.2 million square feet of floor space. It will be split level with arrivals and baggage claim on the lower level, and departures and security on the upper level. There will be a new seating area with food stalls and shops.
  • 30 new gates (11 more than the original terminal)
  • Set aside space for a future transit station, potentially if the San Diego trolley is extended to reach the airport.
  • A new nearby 5,500-space parking garage.
  • Construction of a new second taxiway to help ease congestion on the single runway.
  • Numerous upgrades to local roads to remove incoming traffic to the airport.
  • A free shuttle bus service from the airport to the old town public transport hub.

The first stage of the new terminal could be open as soon as 2024, with the latter section completed by 2026.

What do you think about this news? Will you be using the new airport? Let us know in the comments.