KEY WEST — Key West International Airport officials will not add any additional services until they complete a multimillion-dollar concourse expansion project, which is expected to be complete in 2024.
The airport has added several new routes in the past few years, leading to record numbers of passengers, but some travelers have begun to complain about the lack of space in the departure areas. The construction project will also make the airport more congested. The airport currently has six airlines conducting 24 non-stop routes.
No new service will be added until the project is completed, Monroe County Airports Director Richard Strickland said.
Also, the cost of the project has increased because of the cost of materials and labor has risen, but the project will still be funded entirely through Federal Aviation Administration grants and revenues from the airport. No property tax money will be used for the project, Strickland said.
The cost of the roughly $80 million project has increased by 5%, or $2.8 million, Strickland said. About $500,000 has been added to the project for vision and hearing impairment content and $750,000 for flooring work, according to Strickland.
The cost increases have Strickland and the county considering not including a small aquarium at a cost of $400,000, but instead creating a virtual seascape in one of the walkways coming out of the terminals, Strickland said.
The county still plans to include art in the flooring at a cost of $1.5 million. The art is supposed to resemble the ocean washing up on the sand, but the design still has to be formally approved by a county committee, Strickland said.
Work, including the utilities and the pouring of foundations, will begin in late March or early April, Strickland said.
The expansion is needed to accommodate the increase in passengers, Strickland said. From baggage claim to the departure waiting room, the airport is underserving passengers, officials said.
The new concourse will accommodate a third security check-in line and more room for a baggage pickup area. The departure area will grow from 4,000 to 18,000 square feet, Stickland said.
The project includes glass jetways so people will no longer have to walk across the tarmac to get to the terminal.