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Allan

Bonds to Fund Detroit Metro Airport Terminal

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A schematic of the new North Terminal depicts its W-style concourse with 35 gates handling international traffic in the center and domestic carriers on either side.

Bonds to fund Detroit Metro terminal

Airport Authority plans $366 million issue for new concourse

By R.J. King / The Detroit News

ROMULUS -- The Wayne County Airport Authority plans next week to issue $366 million in revenue bonds to help get a new passenger terminal at Detroit Metro Airport off the ground.

The new North Terminal, which will replace the vacant Davey Terminal and eventually the Smith Terminal, will offer up to 35 gates for airlines that compete with Northwest Airlines Inc., which handles about 75 percent of all flights.

Northwest moved to the 97-gate Midfield Terminal at Detroit Metro last year. Detroit Metro is the 10th-busiest airport in the nation.

On Tuesday, the seven-member authority said it would issue the revenue bonds and is working with Goldman Sachs Capital Markets to fix interest rates. The bonds will be secured by the airport's general revenues, including landing fees collected from airlines.

"We're attempting to build the new terminal as quickly and efficiently as possible," said James Nicholson, chairman of the airport authority. "We want people to have a high-quality experience when they come to Detroit, and that starts at the airport."

The North Terminal, which will cost about $425 million, will offer a W-style concourse with international traffic in the center, flanked on either side by domestic carriers. It also will include stores, restaurants, a business center, a children's play area and state-of-the-art flight information monitors.

The project, to be completed in 2006, would replace the Smith Terminal built in 1957. Home to such carriers as Spirit Airlines and United Airlines, the Smith Terminal lacks numerous modern amenities such as spacious waiting areas and multiple baggage carousels.

Once the North Terminal is complete, the Smith Terminal will be torn down. In the coming months, the airport plans to issue up to $450 million in additional bonds to complete the North Terminal and fund other improvement projects, Nicholson said.

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I think its a good idea - but is there demand for it? In this post 9/11 world, we are dealing with airport capacity that is far beyond what is demanded. I'm wary of anything like this being built for that reason.

BUT, its great news for Detroit.

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Smith Terminal is old, outdated, and embarassing. It lacks ammenities not found in other big airports. So it will be a good image booster for the people who travel through the airport. Nobody should have to go throgh that building! Right now the only people who don't are those who fly on Northwest or Continental Airlines.

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