Sanford Airport hopes upgrades will attract airlines

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SANFORD, Fla. —

The Sanford Airport Authority is taking on a big loan to make major upgrades for passengers in what could be an effort to lure more flights to central Florida.

The president of Sanford-Orlando International Airport told Channel 9 he's in talks with several commercial airlines and that the airport recently spent a few million to upgrade their baggage claim area.

The Airport Authority board also approved upgrading the passenger bridges outside to meet their growing demand, a move that could cost upwards of $13 million.

Officials, however, said the upgrades should make the airport more attractive to airlines looking to move.

Unlike the moving passenger bridges that are at most major airports, Sanford's are so old they're stationary, meaning planes have to line up exactly right in order to land at the airport.

On Tuesday, there weren't many travelers in the terminal and the brand new baggage claims weren't moving much, but those who use the airport insist their flights are getting fuller, according to Channel 9's Karla Ray.

"We always flew out of the big airport and once we got word of this, this is so much easier, so much easier," said traveler Dorothy Zeh.

Ray found traffic at the airport jumped almost 20 percent from February 2012 to February 2013.

The loan will be paid with fees collected from passengers, airport president Larry Dale said.