Dwight D. Eisenhower Airport, Change Has Landed
It took 10 years and 160 million dollars, but the new terminal of Wichita Eisenhower National Airport is undeniably a terminal fit for the Air Capital of the World.
Formerly Wichita Mid-Continent Airport, the new Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport opened in June of 2015. “It Changes Today”, is the tag line chosen to reflect how air travel through Wichita will never be the same. With a new name, a new terminal, a new marketing image and a new parking garage, the city of Wichita can officially say there’s a brand new ICT.
- Air Capital Bar - Concourse-features a view overlooking the tarmac
- Chic-Fil-A - Concourse
- Dunkin’ Donuts - Concourse
- Grab & Fly - Concourse
- River City Brewing Co. - Concourse – Wichita’s own brewery, featuring a special brew made just for the airport
- Aviators Café- Pre Security
- Air Capital Market – Concourse
- CNBC News Express - Concourse
- CNBC Smartshop – Concourse
- 786 power outlets so you can never be without power on all your devices.
- 12 gates (3 of which won’t be functional until the demolition of the old terminal)
- Glass Jet bridges – ICT has the largest installation of glass jet bridges in the U.S. and is actually one of four airports in the US, with glass jet bridges.
- Parking Garage with 1600 total parking spaces
- Pay on foot stations to expedite payment of parking fees and express exiting.
- Rental car service from 9 different service providers.
- Covered, Geo-thermally heated walkways
- Commercial airline service provided by Allegiant Air, American, Delta, Southwest and United Airlines.
- Displays throughout terminal depicting Wichita’s aviation history
- An expanded baggage claim with three carousels
- An expanded security screening area for a more efficient screening process
- Online tracking app to check parking space availability
- Digital roadside signs showing number of spots available in a given lot
- Play area for kids located on the northwest corner of the concourse
Wichita's New Terminal
In 2001, The City of Wichita began its consideration for a new airport terminal. A study that was conducted determined the cost of renovating the old terminal, which opened in 1953 was more than building a whole new one. Various compliance regulations such as ADA or building safety added to renovation costs.
Designed to reflect upon Wichita’s aviation history the new terminal is nothing short of spectacular. From the floor to the ceiling, and even on to the roof, the new terminal is aviation themed throughout. Walking into the terminal one is greeted by a spacious ticketing wing. The terrazzo design in the floor, inspired by the contrails of an aircraft, guides passengers along their way. Located above the ticket counters, the familiar flaps of an aircraft wing serve as an awning. Moving upstairs to the mezzanine there is an elegant sculpture by Ed Carpenter; an instillation inspired by the ribs inside of an aircraft wing the dichroic glass catches the natural light streaming into the concourse to become a beautiful art piece as ever changing as the weather. Other design elements include the ceiling, modeled after aircraft windows, and the ventilation ducts, which look like the ventilation ducts on many planes.
Designed for Efficiency, Comfort, and Sustainability
Efficiency was also a key concern in the design process. Every detail was considered to streamline the process with which you arrive and depart making your stay in the terminal as efficient and pleasant as possible. What used to be a very long walk from the ticket counter to the gate has been shortened by more than 40%. Automated kiosks allow for a more efficient check-in process. The TSA checkpoint used to be split between the two concourses of the old terminal, which was a hassle for both TSA agents and passengers alike. The new checkpoint has been streamlined with 4 lanes, one of which has a full body scanner. The security area is far less claustrophobic than many TSA across the country. After going through security, you’re in the concourse, very near the gates.
Being environmentally friendly and sustainable was also at the forefront of the design. Built to LEED standards, the new terminal features several energy saving features. Groundwater is used to heat and cool the luggage handling area, this same system also aids in melting snow and ice on sidewalks. Additionally, water-saving plumbing fixtures along with energy efficient HVAC and lighting systems were installed to better aid conservation efforts
Along with the new terminal came a new image and a new name for the airport. The tag line “It Changes Today” was chosen to point out how the new terminal is a better reflection of the city. Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport is after all Wichita’s front door to the rest of the world. The airport’s brand colors were redesigned to match the primer colors of the airplanes being built just down the runway from them.
A new Parking garage and rental car center was also added directly across the street from the terminal with 1600 total parking spots, 800 of which are covered. The first floor of the garage is reserved for the rental car companies, all of which have counters located in a lobby attached to the garage as well. Pickup and drop off of rental cars is now inside the garage, which means no more hunting for your rental company, another efficiency feature. The Remaining 3 floors and 1200 spots are for the general public. Along with a new garage the old parking lots are getting an overhaul to make them like new. To make all of parking a more efficient process, online tracking features as well as digital roadside signs are on the way so you will know if any spots are available in each lot and garage.
No Tax Burden
You may have noticed the price tag on the new terminal. $160 Million, not a number to scoff at; but, did you know that the Taxpayers didn’t front the cost of the new terminal? This is because the airport is an enterprise fund of the City of Wichita and does not use general tax funds to pay for its operations. Airport operations are funded with airport-generated revenue that comes from a variety of sources- concessions, parking, lease’s, terminal rents, advertising, and user fees. The user fees come from two sources; taxes paid when a passenger buys an airlines ticket and passenger facility charges. The taxes pad on airline tickets go to the aviation trust fund and to homeland security. This is where the grant monies came from to fund large capital projects, such as terminal construction. Passenger facility charges are fees the airport charges for passenger-related projects and are agreed upon by the airlines. The PFC is $4.50. What this means is that unless you use the airport you’re not paying for it.
This is the City of Wichita’s third Airport name and third terminal. The first was the Wichita Municipal Airport, which was built starting in 1930, but not completed until 1935 due to the great depression. Wichita Municipal Airport served the city for 17 years before the Air force built a base and began to use the airport for its own operations. In 1954 all commercial and non-military flights had moved to a newer terminal at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. The military used the first terminal until 1984. In 1991 it was converted into the Kansas Aviation Museum.
The second terminal, Wichita Mid-Continent Airport, opened its doors in 1953. The two concourses were added to the facility in 1976 along with 10 gates. The final flight out of Mid-Continent was on June 2, 2015. The plans for the old terminal are for it to be demolished, beginning in September 2015.
July 2015, the month after the new terminal opened, ICT set a record for total passengers in the month of July. Employees enjoy the new facilities more; one such employee said, “I’m actually proud to say I work here now.”
Article and Photography by Ian Clark