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(NECN: Peter Howe, Boston) - It’s been 10 years since Boston’s Logan Airport’s international Terminal E underwent any major renovations – an eternity in airport time – and Tuesday, Gov. Deval L. Patrick unveiled a $100 million package of upgrades.
The overall construction is expected to take about two years. One project creates a new connection on the secured side between terminals E and C, so that international and JetBlue passengers can make flight connections between those two terminals without having to exit and re-enter through security again. (Logan officials hope in time to create past-security connections someday among all four terminals.)
A second major element would be to rework jet bridges so Logan can potentially accommodate the world’s biggest jetliner, the Airbus A380, which can be configured with as many as 750 to 770 seats in two levels the length of the fuselage.
Massachusetts Port Authority CEO Thomas P. Glynn said Tuesday is it not out the question Boston gets brought these behemoths. "Some of the airlines are lobbying us to take a look at being able to service an A380, so that's one of the things that we're trying to prepare for in case the whole market shifts -- that we're ready to handle those aircraft," Glynn said. "We want to reconfigure some of the gates to accommodate some of the international flights that are a little bit bigger than the flights we have now, so those two projects are the biggest from a cost point of view, but we're also doing some renovations of this space with more of a welcoming atmosphere" and new food and beverage options in the new space connection E and C.
Logan has three new international routes opening very soon: Emirates to and from Dubai starting on Monday; Turkish Airlines to and from Istanbul in May; and Hainan to Beijing in June. Those come on top of recent launches of nonstop service to and from Panama City on Copa Airlines and Tokyo on Japan Air Lines.
Overall Logan international passenger traffic has grown about 20 percent in the last decade. "We think we're doing an OK job now, but we're trying to get ahead of the game in terms of servicing the new flights from these five new destinations," Glynn said.
It’s shaping up a busy musical-chairs springtime at Logan as construction at Terminal B linking its north and south sides is projected to be done in about two months. The construction is also creating a new space for United Airlines to move to in B after its takeover of Continental Airlines. The airline next month will shift its legacy United operations from Terminal C to B and its legacy Continental service – flights to and from Cleveland, Newark, and Houston – from Terminal A to Terminal B. Like the past-security connection being built between E and C, with the new construction in B passengers will be able to flow between and among American (including the old US Airways), United, Air Canada, Spirit, and other carriers without having to go back through security.
The shift of ex-Continental operations to the new consolidated United gate space in B creates a big space in Terminal A alongside Delta Air Lines, and Glynn said Logan is talking with several airlines about terms for moving operations there. Glynn declined to name names, but speculation has been rife that Southwest -– which has, incongruously, been in Terminal E since arriving at Logan about a decade ago despite operating no international flights out of Boston – would be the ideal tenant now that it’s absorbed AirTran Airways.
Logan could also stand to benefit from having space freed up in Terminal E to accommodate a booming international business.
"We've set records for the last two years overall for passenger traffic, even though the number of overall flights is actually down, but international is really up. It's growing about twice as fast as our overall growth," Glynn said, or about 7 percent per year over the last few years compared to just 3 percent for the airport overall.
With videographer John E. Stuart