A new wing at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City will soon welcome passengers once security measures are put in place next week, with flights anticipated to take off from the expansion’s four new gates by the end of the month.
The $90 million construction project began more than two years ago and will feature new lounges, amenities, security processes and the potential for future expansions and international flights.
“We don’t want to ever be in the position to say no to anybody because we don’t have room,” said Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt on the ability to accommodate more nonstop flights and for continued improvement of the airport.
Three of the four new gates have been leased to Delta Air Lines, which will move operations from its current gate locations in the airport to the new wing. The fourth gate was built with international travel in mind, with a customs area connected underneath the new main concourse that will allow the airport to accept international flights.
“We haven’t been able to bring in international flights since 9/11 because we didn’t have a hold area for customs, so we built those,” said John Semtner, principal of FSB, the project’s architecture and engineering firm. “We’re adding the world back to Will Rogers World Airport.”
Security screenings also will change with the transition as a new eight-lane checkpoint takes the place of current screening areas, which in turn will be made into meet and greet areas.
“You used to pick up your family standing next to the escalators; now there’s actually lounges for you to wait and hang out and spend time,” said Semtner.
The Transportation Security Administration will start transitioning the new terminal from construction site into a secured location able to accept passengers over the coming weeks.
Lounge areas in the new terminal feature lots of seating options equipped with USB ports, an unimpeded view of the airfield and art throughout created by artist Matt Goad showcasing Oklahoma’s contributions to the world and the state’s history titled “OKConnected.”
New restaurants and shops in addition to more accessible seating and waiting areas are intended to change the traveler experience while giving Oklahoma businesses a chance to make an impression on visitors.
“I think in the progression of the city, 20 years ago we just wanted to have the national stuff that everybody else had, and we got that,” said Holt. “Now we’re big enough, America’s 22nd largest city, we kind of want to have our own brands represented at the airport. We have things we’re proud of now that we want our visitors to see.”
Plenty Mercantile, Elemental Coffee, Tin Lizzie’s, Hatch and Osteria are several of the local businesses that will set up shop, to be accompanied by national brands like Starbucks, Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers and Tropical Smoothie.
The shops and restaurants will start opening later this month and through October, with Vino Volo, a restaurant and bar, set to open in November.
The airport is also in a position to add on six additional gates as demand requires in the future, which accompanies a current plan to renovate 21,000 square feet of the original terminal.
Contractors contended with supply chain issues caused by the pandemic while constructing the 133,000-square-foot expansion project, while also trying not to disturb a fully functioning airport.
“We’ve had to find alternate materials, alternate suppliers and to work through that,” said Semtner. “It’s been difficult for our team and it added some months to the schedule, but other than that I think we’ve weathered the storm pretty well.”