Manhattan Regional cleaves terminal to rebuild and expand

July 11, 2017


Manhattan Regional Airport, located in the picturesque and growing Flint Hills region of Kansas, cut the ribbon on its new terminal early this year. More than triple the size of the old facility, the new 42,000-square-foot building emerged from the footprint of the existing terminal in an unusual manner. The airport essentially cut its existing terminal in half, and then demolished, rebuilt and expanded each half during separate phases-while maintaining operations the entire time.

The project, which lasted more than three years and cost about $18 million, had been a long time coming, reflects Airport Director Jesse Romo. When preliminary planning for the new terminal began in 2009, MHK had approximately 25,000 total enplanements. In 2015, the airport exceeded 66,000.

Traffic increased quickly after MHK received $2 million from the state of Kansas and $250,000 in local funds to meet the community’s growing demands for expanded air service. In September 2009, American Eagle began providing regional jet service to Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW) with minimum revenue guarantees through the Essential Air Service program. If flights fell below 70% load factors, MHK would use funds received from the state to offset the difference. But load factors remained above the threshold and even increased. Soon, the airline added two more DFW flights, and service to O’Hare International (ORD) as well. These days, American offers up to three flights per day to DFW and two to ORD from the growing Kansas airport.

In December 2010, MHK received a $350,000 grant from the U.S. DOT Small Community Air Service Development program and $150,000 in local funds to help promote the airport’s new regional jet service.

“We never had to tap into that $2 million [from the state],” Romo proudly reports. “Two years later we returned those monies with interest-an amazing success story indicating the strength of the Manhattan market.”

In the meantime, however, the old terminal struggled to handle the increased traffic.

Based on the airport’s 2011 Terminal Master Plan, the FAA agreed that a new terminal was needed. MHK began demolition and construction in October 2013, with Airport Improvement Program funds paying for 78% of the $18 million project and the city funding the remaining 22%.

Remaining Operational

Mead & Hunt designed the new terminal, working with general contractor The Weitz Co. to develop a complex phasing program that kept the terminal up and running throughout the project. During construction, a temporary access road helped prevent vehicular conflicts between arriving travelers and contractor equipment.

Before demolition and construction could begin on the eastern half of the terminal, the airport had to relocate its ticketing counters, outbound baggage screening operations and airport administration offices. Three modular trailers equipped with ramps were placed just outside the western half of the building for the airline ticketing office and TSA baggage screening. Airport administration offices were relocated to a vacant building on the east side of the airfield. Rental car offices, a holdroom for departing passengers and the entryway for arriving passengers remained in the western half of the building.

With all tenants out of the eastern side of the terminal, the first order of business was constructing a temporary dividing wall in the center of building so demolition and construction could ensue in two separate phases.

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