Aug 18, 2011 10:28 PM by Ariel Wesler

$54 million terminal opens at the Santa Barbara Airport

If you're flying out of Santa Barbara, you'll have a lot more room for yourself and your bags.

The city's 72,000 square foot airport terminal is now open for business. The new facility replaces the old terminal from 1942. Construction has been underway for about two years. The hope is it will help make flying more convenient.

About 250 passengers were the first to check it out when their flights arrived last night.

The Santa Barbara Airport's brand new terminal has arrived in true Spanish style.

"I like the way that they've kept the kind of typical architecture for Santa Barbara," said Passenger Bob Nider of Santa Barbara.

From the moment you roll in, you'll notice a big difference. There's one large check-in area and each airline has its own counter. You'll head upstairs to go through security. The terminal is two stories.

"The old airport was quaint. We kind of liked the old quaint aspect of it," said Robert Spaulding of Solvang.

"It's very spacious and very nice," said Passenger Karol Fowler, who used to live in Santa Barbara.

Once through security, there's a large departure lounge with five boarding gates and a restaurant.

"In the past people didn't have access to food, restrooms, or supplies and now they do," said Airport Marketing Director Terri Gibson.

If you're not rushing to catch a flight, take a look around. The airport is filled with public art.

From top to bottom, it's hard to miss the artistic touches, which extend beyond the building. The terminal is just one of two in the U.S. with glass jetways. Airport official say it's all part of the plan to give Santa Barbara a unique identity.

"It's a beautiful view and that was important to us to make sure that people felt that they weren't in 'Anywhere USA'," Gibson said.

Whether outside or inside, it's easy to watch the world go by before you fly around it.

Airport officials say the old terminal will eventually become an extension of the new terminal and service as parking and patrol offices. The $54 million project was mostly paid for through city bonds and FAA grant money.

The airport serves more than 750,000 passengers a year. It has a half a billion dollar economic impact on Santa Barbara County and provides about 1500 local jobs.


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