Broward County’s Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL) is one of the county’s major self-supporting economic engines that is continuing to grow, year after year. FLL is ranked 21st in the United States in total passenger traffic and 13th in domestic origin and destination passengers. With four terminals and 62 gates, there are more than 350 departures and 350 arrival flights a day. FLL offers nonstop service to 140 U.S. cities and flights to Canada, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Mexico, Latin America and Europe, averaging 640 commercial flights per day on 26 airlines. The airport was the fastest growing U.S. large-hub airport in 2017. Traffic has grown by nearly 9 million passengers, or 38%, compared to 2013. The total traffic for 2017 at FLL was 32.5 million passengers, up 11.3% from the previous year.
As our community continues to grow, our airport will need to grow as well. To meet the needs of our growing airport, the Broward County Aviation Department (BCAD) completed the last FLL Master Plan in 2010. This plan focused on the long-term landside and terminal needs. Based on the plan, a Capital Improvement Program began that included: modernizing the four existing terminals, expanding the south runway, and improving other facilities, roads, and utilities. This program has been very successful and will be completed by 2020.
As FLL’s 2010 Master Plan comes to fruition, BCAD most recently started to update the Master Plan for the future, beyond 2020. This will ensure that FLL can meet the future aviation needs of our community. More importantly, it provides a cohesive and cost-effective plan for building new facilities, roads, garages, and utilities at FLL. The airport’s new Master Plan identifies FLL’s capital improvements to meet the operational needs through 2035. Additionally, the plan satisfies the needs of the market and community while also balancing environmental, social and economic impacts.
The Board of County Commissioners recently reviewed the potential options for the refinement and evaluation of passenger terminal expansion concepts. These concepts provide for a 77-gate expansion by 2025 and an 85-gate expansion by 2035. The 77-gate expansion is proposed to satisfy the projected demand level by 2025. Per the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Approved Master Plan Forecast, 42 million annual passengers are projected by 2025. And, by 2035, the projected demand level per the FAA Approved Master Plan Forecast is 53 million annual passengers. Providing for an 85-gate expansion will assist in serving this multitude of passengers by 2035. Ultimately, the airport will be built out to its maximum capacity at 95-gates in the following years to accommodate the increased tourism and passenger traffic at FLL.
Other transformational concepts are also being considered in FLL’s Master Plan update. The addition of an Intermodal Center is a potential integrated development that is being studied further and would include multiple modes of ground transportation and rail, public parking, employee parking, bag tagging/drop-off for early arriving passengers, entertainment, office and/or food service options. Other potential options include a new Palm Garage, Ground Transportation Center, hotel, commercial center/courtyard and outdoor space and airport people-mover station connection.
Making sure our airport continues the path of growth is vital to the viability of our community. FLL’s new Master Plan is in its beginning stages of development and the final recommendations, as well as the Airport Layout Plan, will be approved by mid-2019. Stakeholders and the Board of County Commissioners will be involved throughout this process. Most importantly, BCAD will also provide opportunities for public involvement in the next phases. This includes the opportunity for your voice to be heard regarding environmental and sustainability at FLL, the capital improvement program, financial feasibility and the airport layout plan.
As we begin this process to plan for FLL’s future, it is crucial to remember that these changes will better serve our community and the growing tourism industry in Broward County. If you have any thoughts or suggestions regarding this very important step in FLL’s future, please do not hesitate to contact our office.
As always, it is my honor to serve you.