In just over a month, passengers flying Allegiant or Texas Sky airlines will fly out of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport’s newly rehabilitated South Terminal, rather than the main Barbara Jordan Terminal.
The smaller terminal, located south of the airport tower and accessible only from Burleson Road, will open April 13. It will be home to just those two carriers for now, but airport officials say they expect more small, low-cost airlines will eventually follow.
A public-private partnership approved by the Austin City Council in 2015, LoneStar Airport Holdings, will operate the facility under a 30-year operating lease with the city of Austin. LoneStar completed and paid for $12 million in renovations to the 30,000-square-foot building last summer.
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is designed to serve about 11 million people, but last year, it surpassed 12 million, airport spokesman Jim Halbrook said.
The South Terminal “alleviates some of the passenger traffic from the main terminal,” Halbrook said. “It also keeps the Austin airport attractive for more air service by giving us more capacity.”
The airport is also undergoing a $350 million, nine-gate expansion project on the east end of the Barbara Jordan Terminal that is expected to be complete in 2019.
Allegiant Airlines, which will move all its operations from the main terminal to the South Terminal, will likely be the largest carrier. The airline offers flights to 10 nonstop destinations, including Las Vegas, Orlando and Cleveland.
“The vast majority of our passengers fly just about one time a year,” said Daniel Meier, Allegiant’s manager of airport affairs. “So I think the South Terminal with its setup and with the size of it will be very easy for them to use and be very low-stress.”
Texas Sky will also move operations to the South Terminal and continue providing a daily flight to Victoria.
The terminal will have three outdoor, canopy-covered gates, enough capacity to serve up to 36 flights per day, and two Transportation Security Administration security screening lines. It will also have grab-and-go food and drink kiosks.
Instead of typical passenger boarding bridges, the gates will use airstairs and ramps for handicap passengers. That style of boarding, intrinsic to 1950s and 1960s flying, or as LoneStar Airport Holdings CEO Jeff Pearse puts it, a “golden age of air travel,” was what inspired the midcentury modern styling of the terminal.
A main attraction of the terminal will be an outdoor waiting area, in addition to the indoor area, with a bar and live music stage. Pearse also hopes to introduce a food truck on the patio, possibly rotating vendors periodically.
A parking lot with 1,000 spaces will be available in front of the terminal for $7 a day. There also will be lanes for taxi and ride-hailing service drop-off.
A shuttle will run frequently from the South Terminal for passengers making connections and going to the rental car facility at the main terminal. During peak times, the shuttle will run every 10 minutes.