Orlando Airport, bursting at seams, seeks billion-dollar enhancements

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ORLANDO, Fla. - The Orlando International Airport could become one of the top 10 largest airports in the world.

That's the vision of the Greater Orlando Airport Authority's executive director.

GOAA executive director Phillip Brown laid out the multibillion-dollar plans Wednesday, some of which could be approved next week.

"We're asking the board for a billion-dollar capitol plan. It includes enhancement projects for our north terminal," Brown said.

OIA was built to handle 24 million travelers but it now sees 35 million a year. Brown said that number is growing.

"When we hit 40 million, you're going to have some crunches. We have got to make improvements," Brown said.

In the first phase a people mover will take people from near what is now the cellphone lot to the north terminal.

"(The) people mover is basically a connection from north terminal down to a parking garage structure. That facility will allow us to expand capacity in our north terminal," Brown said.

The big picture includes another billion in enhancements.

The end result would be four connecting rail systems, 120 new international and domestic airside gates and two new 500-room hotels.

"If you go anywhere in the world, they want connectivity. We don't have a lot of that in the U.S. That's why we think it's important to be multimodal," Brown said.

The money will come from the same system that funds the airport now: User fees, bonds and the Federal Aviation Authority.

Brown said it will not mean a raise in fees to passengers, just an extension of the current user fee.