Holiday travelers will have a little more breathing room when they pass through security at the Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco.
The Port of Pasco unveiled the expansive new passenger screening area Wednesday, just in time for the departures of its six morning flights and their 500-plus passengers.
The Transportation Security Administration moved its equipment into the new passenger screening zone Tuesday night and had two operating lanes going by morning.
Its new digs include more room for passengers to line up for screening, as well as additional room to recompose themselves after they pass the checkpoint.
The upgrade is part of the port’s $41.9 million project to double the size of the region’s busiest airport.
It previously opened the new passenger ticketing area to the public. The security zone is the second new addition. In January, it will open the new five-gate terminal with a soaring roof and impressive runway views.
The new security zone opened in time for the busiest travel season of the year in what is proving to be the busiest air travel year in Tri-City history.
Ron Foraker, the airport’s director, said 9 percent more passengers boarded planes in November than last year and 2016 is running 8 percent ahead of 2015. That translates into 339,306 boardings through November, a record.
“We’re going to have a pretty strong year,” Foraker said.
The new security area includes more space for passengers and is set up to double the number of screening lanes to four in the future.
After passing through security, passengers enter the airport’s new “gallery” area, offering seating and in a month or so, concessions. The gallery is at the mid-point of the airport’s five gates.
Gates 1 and 2 remain closed for renovations with 3, 4 and 5 in use.
In January, the port will unveil the expanded airport with tours 3 to 5 p.m. Jan. 27.
After the grand opening, the new terminal will be off limits to those without an airline ticket. Call the port, 509-547-3378, for tour reservations.
Bouten Construction is the primary contractor for the project.
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