What’s Going On At Our Airport?

Plans for airport expansion include more immigration booths, luggage carousels and an expanded terminal
BY: CALEB HOOGLAND

It seems like every time we turn around, we’re hearing some new number about how much traffic through the Los Cabos International Airport has increased.

At a recent airport commission meeting, we learned that, from 2015-2016, there was a spike in commercial flights, so the airport is now operating 25% more flights than before 2056. And passengers? We saw a 13% increase there, too. For every 100 people in line for customs, you can add another 13 people. That adds up quick.

airport_0.JPGThe airport is estimating that 5 million passengers will have gone through our airport by the end of 2017, which would top the previous high by almost 800,000 passengers.

With airport records being broken annually for arrivals and departures, our “new” airport (which was almost entirely rebuilt after Hurricane Odile in 2014) just isn’t big enough for all the demand. Just ask anyone who flew in on March 25 of this year, when the time from landing to making it through immigrationballooned to over four hours. The fact of the matter is that our airport is pretty small and we don’t have nearly enough immigration stations to get us through the line fast enough. You will notice that immigration officials are trying their best, with every station manned, (or womaned), they just need more stations. And, those immigration officials can only move us through as fast as their computers will respond to their inputs.

To combat this problem, GAP (the group that operates the airport, not the clothing chain) has announced several changes, including: better use of the runway (which isn’t yet at full capacity), more ramp positions for planes, more stations for immigration, and expanding the luggage carousels. Actually, the problem is in immigration, not customs, they mostly just wave us through there. Sometimes we wonder if the red light works at all.

Right now, the ramp area where the planes line up has already been redone and is in full use with as many as eight to 10 planes lined up. And where else do you see so many planes lined up with no gates, and no jetways? At least airport workers are very efficient at directing us to the correct airplane and to our knowledge nobody has climbed up the stairs to a plane going to Alaska thinking it’s going to Albuquerque. Gap has also invested in buses, to take us to planes parked even further away.

The runway renovation is an ongoing process and is expected to be finished by the end of November. Since we only have one runway, it isn’t feasible to shut down our airport, as flights are constantly coming and going.

Most exciting is the expansion that is currently underway inTerminal 2 (chances are that if you are reading this, you use that terminal, because it is for international flights). Current construction and remodeling will add more than 134,000 square feet. Hopefully, this also helps get rid of that long line problem.

GAP is also doubling up on the number of restroom stations at the baggage claim, and building new ones at immigration for those of you who had too much to drink on the flight. Also included is new machinery that will help with baggage checks and increase the number of bags checked per hour by 50%. Couple that with more immigration stations, document check stations, and new self-serve immigration kiosks not quite ready for launch, and we should eventually be zipping through the airport.

Some of this work has already begun and others should be done by the end of the month. The rest will wait until April 2018, when the high season is over.

Other future plans for the airport include expanding the International Terminal to the north and the south; it’s estimated there is room for an additional 700,000 square feet to be added via new construction. However, this will not be started until it is shown that the current revisions and upgrades can no longer handle the demand (let’s be honest, this is a few years away).

And lastly, the airport has already started making plans for adding a second runway, but they feel that won’t be necessary for about 15 years.

And what about better use of the snazzy new and improved Cabo San Lucas airport just behind downtown? The owners, a conglomerate of local business owners, would love to get more use out of their mostly idlefacility and that would really help us all, but GAP, the owners of the San Jose airport, have the most political pull, and it’s all about politics.  ,