Orlando, Fla. -
Orlando International Airport, MCO, has said that it will be meeting with various bodies including Southwest, Delta, United, American, US Airways, and "All Aboard Florida" along with its Florida East Coast Railway affiliate to discuss adding a train station at the airport that would run from Orlando to Miami. Also in the plans are the resurrection of OIA's south terminal as growth nears the maximum capacity the airport can handle smoothly said airport officials.
As part of a deal that would bring a train station serving the local Orlando area to the airport, it would also be capable handling an eventual high-speed rail hub, and would see the construction of another parking garage of 3,500 spaces to accommodate rental car agencies wanting more space on airport property. The new station would be build on what is now the south cell-phone waiting lot.
Financing has not been secured yet and ideas of adding a surcharge to tickets, rental cars, selling bonds, or using reserves to pay for the estimated $470 million expansion that would also include a monorail system to transport passengers from the main terminals to the rail station and the eventual south terminal.
At issue is who will pay for what, with the airport likely to be saddled with about $250 million of that cost with just the parking garage and monorail system. The entire cost of the planned railway, and OIA projects reach upwards of $1 billion, and that does not include the new south terminal plans, though part of the work for that has already been done.
We asked United for comment on this, but they declined to say much other than "Orlando is an important destination for United and we have been asked to be part of an airport meeting taking place soon. We will work with the airport to help ensure continued growth and a smooth operation of our current 70 flights a day flights as we look to add more flights possibly".
Delta, Southwest and American declined to comment, while US Airways said "We look forward to the possibility of new growth potential and hope that it is a win win for everyone, but do not know enough detail to comment specifically".
Adding space for rental car companies is key to the project, because so far most have not openly supported the idea, and many see this as a possible threat to business.
The new project also includes plans that would finally allow passengers to transfer between airsides 1-4 without having to go through security again, something long grumbled about by passengers, especially international passengers making further connections.
If approved, the projected date to completion is sometime in 2015, and an eventual south terminal would be somewhere between 2016 and 2020. That expansion would give OIA capacity for up to 60-70 million passengers a year by some estimates.
OIA is currently the 13th busiest airport in the nation, 29th in the world, and the 9th largest international gateway in the United States, and it the largest airport that is not a hub for an airline, though Southwest and JetBlue have listed Orlando as a focus city.