A new terminal that would accommodate more and larger commercial planes and provide additional amenities for passengers is in the early planning stages at Lafayette Regional Airport. The price tag would range from $60 million to $80 million, but the project could help the airport accommodate a passenger population that may nearly triple by 2025.
“As a commission, we have already made the decision, based on data given to us, to forgo the option of refurbishing the current terminal because of its age and cost,” Airport Commission Chairman Matt Cruse said. “The commission decided to proceed with building a new terminal building.”
Lafayette Regional Airport is at capacity now, Cruse said. Last year, more than 230,000 passengers flew in or out of the airport, up from 159,000 in 2002. And the numbers are expected to keep climbing.
The Federal Aviation Administration forecasts use of the airport to increase by 2.7 percent annually in coming years, longtime Aviation Director Greg Roberts said. A demand forecast conducted for the airport predicted a 50 percent increase in passengers between 2008 and 2025, when 653,000 passengers are expected to use Lafayette Regional Airport.
South Louisiana also is poised for an economic boom like it hasn’t seen in decades, in large part because of the oil and gas industry. That could mean thousands of additional residents and workers using the airport, which offers direct daily flights to oil industry and business hubs in Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth and Atlanta. Better air service could fuel that boom.
“Air service is one of the top business concerns we hear about from local and out-of-town executives,” Gregg Gothreaux, president and CEO of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, said last week.
Corporate executives want direct flights and multiple flights, Gothreaux said. They don’t want to spend all day flying, they want first-class service with all the amenities, a quality facility, quality personnel and excellent taxi service, he said.
The terminal and facilities upgrades at Lafayette Regional Airport are invaluable and can be used to attract new airlines and service providers to the airport, he added.