In 2017 (has it really been FIVE YEARS already?), Orlando International Airport (MCO) began construction on a $2.75 billion expansion project. When completed, Terminal C of what is now Florida’s busiest airport (and the 7th busiest airport in the world) will encompass 300 acres, add 15 gates to accommodate up to 20 aircraft and serve 10-12 million additional passengers each year. This new terminal (part of the “South Terminal Complex”) will also include a station for the Brightline train which will link MCO to Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Miami, as well as, eventually, Walt Disney World and Tampa to the west and i to the southeast.
According to a 2017 press release, arrivals and baggage claim will be located on the third level, “so passengers will experience the beauty of Central Florida immediately after deplaning.” Departures, ticketing and security will be located on the second level and ground transportation on the first level. A state-of-the-art baggage handling system will make use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to offer 100% baggage tracking. Modularity will allow for future expansion and the life-cycle cost will be lower.
In 2017, it was said that the South Terminal Complex would open in 2020. Of course, that didn’t happen ;-). July of 2022 was floated as the opening date for a while, but as per a recent press release, the real, official opening date is now set for a two-week period in September 2022.
International operations at Terminal C will begin on September 19, 2022, and domestic operations will start on September 26th.
“Although we could open before Labor Day, it is best that we transition airline operations and our customers at a period with less passenger travel than our normal peak summer season,” MCO’s CEO, Kevin Thibault said.
Although track construction has remained ongoing, the area where the Brightline train will eventually stop (it’s said it will begin carrying passengers in early 2023) has been open to the public for over 2 years, since the adjacent parking garage (Garage C) was finished early to accommodate overflow from parking garages A & B, with a “people mover” to shuttle passengers between the South Terminal Complex and the other 2 terminals.
Here’s what things were like when we visited the “train side” of the new terminal in the summer of 2019. You can also see what the actual terminal looked like, constructionwise, back then.
Just about a year ago, in May 2021, the terminal was about 70% complete – this is how it all looked back then. The terminal is now said to be about 90% finished. The public still isn’t allowed to enter, but you can still see how things are progressing, if you look from the “train side” of the terminal. We were at MCO the other day, so we made sure to stop by and check how things were doing.
I also got one really crappy photo of the actual Brightline station. I hope they clean the windows before train service begins 😉
Select local print and broadcast outlets were invited to a “sneak peek” of the terminal last week. Here’s some of the video footage as posted by one local reporter:
SNEAK PEEK: Media is getting an inside look at the new Terminal C at @MCO.
Construction is still underway on the 1.8M square foot building.
nearly $3B project to open this Summer.
JetBlue will be primary airline here.
Opening with 15 gates. Can accommodate even A380s. pic.twitter.com/fiURSBbJzL
— Greg Angel (@NewsGuyGreg) April 11, 2022
Obli-gator-y "this is the most Florida thing you'll see today" post. 🐊 pic.twitter.com/teTutULfrG
— Orlando International Airport (@MCO) April 15, 2022
JetBlue, Southwest, Frontier and Avianca will be among the first airlines to make their respective presence in Terminal C. Just a few months to go!
Feature Photo: YMMV/SIKH (that’s me!)
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