I see that DSM added another daily Northwestern flight to Las Vegas.
Here's the scoop on the latest security gate and terminal building expansion. Something defintely needed to be done to the security checkpoint area, but I would like to see money start going to the serious study of a new and relocated terminal building. These band aid repairs on the currently outdated terminal are really starting to add up.
Airport in D.M. to add security lanes
Officials expect the expansion, which is set for Thanksgiving, to improve efficiency.
By FRANK VINLUAN
REGISTER BUSINESS WRITER
August 11, 2005
Security checkpoint waiting times at the Des Moines airport are expected to get faster under an expansion that will double the number of screening lanes.
Last summer, data from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration showed that wait times at the Des Moines airport's security lines were among the longest in the Midwest. The maximum wait - up to 50 minutes at times - has been reduced to 20 minutes or less during busy times, according to data from July and August.
"This expansion will help us process passengers more efficiently," said Jay Brainard, federal security director for Des Moines.
Two new screening lanes are scheduled to open by Thanksgiving, the start of the busy holiday travel season. But until that work is finished, airport officials say, moving through the passage between the main terminal and the concourse could be noisy, dusty and hot. Also, the up escalator will be temporarily closed. The elevators will be working.
When finished, the new screening lanes won't be open all the time. Brainard said they're needed for peak times in the early morning and late afternoon. Wait times during peak periods now average 12 minutes, according to the TSA.
Tom Szary , 60, of Grinnell said he doesn't mind waiting in security lines. He said that after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, people should be willing to give up some time for security.
"To me, that's a minor, insignificant thing to come to an airport two, three hours ahead of time," he said.
His wife, Kathy Szary , 54, said her impression is that Des Moines is more secure than other airports. But she welcomed the expansion.
"I hope that it will make it easier and less time-consuming to get through security," she said.
Stephanie Levi-John , 16, who was visiting Iowa from London, said she knows the security is necessary. But she hopes it can be done faster.
"They need to have more people out there to do searching or whatever so you can be on your way," Levi-John said.
Craig Smith, the Des Moines airport's deputy aviation director, said officials have been planning the $3.9 million expansion since early 2004 to accommodate increasing passenger numbers. The airport screened 997,665 passengers last year, a 9.5 percent increase over 2003.
The airport is paying for the expansion with the passenger facility charge, which is added to airplane tickets. Airports are entitled to a share of that charge for each passenger who boards at the airport. The federal government will pay for the additional screening equipment.
Construction on the expansion began in March but did not affect the interior of the airport until this month. The expansion will also add office space for the Transportation Security Administration, which has been working from leased space scattered throughout the airport. The new office space will be completed this winter.
Eventually, the airport plans to connect the skywalk to the screening area. Ticketed travelers will be able to walk straight from the parking garage to the security checkpoint, Smith said.
The skywalk expansion is not part of the current project, and no budget or timeline has been established for that work.
Currently, 74 screeners staff the security area 16 hours a day. Brainard said that with the expansion, he hopes to hire 14 additional part-time screeners.