Changes at Fort Wayne International Airport next year could lead to bigger improvements later

January 4th, 2018

By Kevin Leininger | News-Sentinel

With passenger traffic at Fort Wayne International Airport poised for an eighth consecutive year of growth, something will have to give in 2018. And so it will, starting with the relocation of the road leading to the terminal.

But that will be only the beginning of a $3.3 million project that will provide more room for parking and, probably sometime in the early 2020s, an even more expensive project: a larger and more functional terminal.

“This will give us more room for parking and terminal expansion. We’ve had seven years of growth,” Airport Executive Director Scott Hinderman said of plans to relocate the driveway into the terminal from Ferguson Road further to the west. The current road will remain open during construction, which will also produce improved signage and a parking lot that will accommodate cars waiting to pick up or drop off travelers.

Fort Wayne International handled 365,884 passenger boardings last year, and Hinderman expects that number to increase slightly again this year. So he is planning to upgrade and expand the terminal sometime “in the early 2020s,”increasing the number of gates from eight to as many as 10 and replacing four ground-level gates with elevated walkways.

In addition, the too-tight security area will be enlarged, and the aviation museum — currently accessible only to passengers who have passed through security — could be relocated outside the security zone. Cost of the terminal project has not been finalized, and funds have not been secured.

Hinderman said he’s exploring one more possible addition that would restore something the airport hasn’t had in more than a decade: a hotel.

The Airport Authority bought and demolished the 145-room Days Inn in 2005, and although the project provided more room for parking it reduced lodging choices for passengers and airline employees. There’s not enough room for a hotel on airport property these days, Hinderman said, but one could be built along the nearby Airport Expressway, which over the past several years has seen the arrival of several major businesses, including BAE Systems and Franklin Electric.

“There’s certainly the demand (for a hotel),” Hinderman said.