By Melissa Yeager | Arizona Republic
In 2008, as Allegiant added new routes and frequency of flights to the East Valley’s newest commercial airport, the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Aviation Advisory Board needed a quick fix to keep up with the growth of passenger traffic.
It was hauled in a portable building to become an annex to the terminal.
The 10,000-square-foot structure would house four gates and temporarily ease growing pains until Phoenix-Mesa Gateway could build something more permanent.
But thirteen years later, the growth of routes, airlines and passengers utilizing the airport has stretched that band-aid fix to its limits.
“We need to replace this substandard four gate terminal with a state-of-the-art five gate terminal that is able to handle the continued growth at the airport,” Brian O’Neill, Executive Director of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, said.
COVID-19 exposes Terminal annex’s weakness
O’Neill said the limits of the temporary facility became apparent when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and demanded social distancing.
“When Allegiant has an Airbus 320 in here with 187 passengers, if you start loading multiple flights out of that facility it truly exposes itself as a completely substandard and unsafe airport terminal facility,” O’Neill said.
In fact, O’Neill said while on paper the airport has 10 gates, the airport can only really use two gates at a time in that annex, dropping the number of available gates down to 8 even as the airport is adding flights.