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Growing city airport looks to the future

The Guadalajara airport is expanding a terminal and adding more space in immigration to prepare for more international travelers.

In 2013, about 2.6 million international passengers arrived and departed the Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla International Airport, located south of Guadalajara just off the highway that runs to Lake Chapala. That’s a slight increase from the 2.4 million international passengers who passed through the airport in 2012.

“The idea is that the number of passengers is going to increase,” said Miguel Aliaga, institutional relations director of Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacifico (GAP), the airport’s operators.

Right now, the airport’s international area – including part of Terminal Two and the point where passengers first make contact with Mexican immigration officials – is undergoing a 10,000-square-meter expansion. The cost of the improvements is 180 million pesos (2.46 million dollars), Aliaga said.

The work started in mid-2013 and should be finished by the middle of this year.

With the terminal expansion, the airport will have two additional direct-contact gates for international flights, bringing the total to four. The airport has an additional six remote gates, where passengers board and exit flights further out on the runway.

Ultimately, the improvements should make it easier for international passengers to move through the airport comfortably and quickly, Aliaga said. The increasing number of international flyers and the belief that the quantity is only going to grow prompted the expansions, he said.

The international area isn’t the only part of the area that’s getting an upgrade. The runway is also undergoing a renovation and expansion to accommodate heavier planes and more frequent air travel.

The cost of that work, which also started in mid-2013 and is expected to wrap up midyear, is 188 million pesos, Aliaga said.

And here’s a tip for anyone who might be greeting an international visitor in the future. It’s important to remember that your visitor may not have a cell phone that works internationally so you won’t necessarily be able to call or text to find them in the airport, regardless of how quick and easy their arrival was.

Ideally, it’s nice to greet your visitors as they walk out of customs, but if something goes wrong it’s good to have a rendezvous point. An easy meet-up spot is right under the round Starbucks’ sign, as it’s one of the first things a person sees upon leaving the secured area and arriving in Guadalajara.

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