BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (WCCO) — The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport’s smaller terminal is getting a lot bigger.
The Metropolitan Airports Commission approved a $26 million plan Tuesday to add four new gates to Terminal 2 at the airport. Airport officials say the addition is needed because it’s getting busier and more crowded at Terminal 2.READ MORE: Children's Wisconsin Still Treating 7 Victims From Waukesha Christmas Parade Crash
But at the same time, one of the biggest carriers at Terminal 2, Sun Country Airlines, is facing an uncertain future.
On her way to Alaska, traveler Yvonne Zappa said she prefers the smaller terminal. Terminal 2 only has 4.7 million passengers per year compared to Terminal 1, which has 29 million.
“It’s so much easier to get through and security and everything, we love it,” Zappa said.
Vice President of Development Gary Warren says the Metropolitan Airports Commission moved forward with a $26 million plan to add four gates, bringing the total to 14.
“We have seen double-digit growth for the last few years at Terminal 2,” he said.
However, Warren said much of the growth came from Spirit Airlines, which moved to Terminal 1 in January 2015. Since then, things have slowed down quite a bit at Terminal 2.
To add to the uncertainty, last month top officials for Sun Country Airlines began talking about downsizing or even shutting down.READ MORE: 49ers Beat Vikings 34-26; Cook Suffers Shoulder Injury
“We love Sun Country, we’d really have to think about flying some other airline then,” Zappa said.
Sun Country pilots say they are the lowest paid in the country and want a raise. Sun County officials and the Air Line Pilots Association have been in negotiations for five years with no agreement in sight.
“The real Achilles heel here is 80 to 90 percent of those passengers would end up at Terminal 1 where we are congested already,” Warren said.
The ALPA released a statement Tuesday.
“Last week we learned that the airline plans to grow to 22 airplanes this winter, and they plan to hire pilots to fly those new airplanes. We see this as a positive sign. Sun Country pilots are highly-skilled professionals with decades of experience. We are committed to completing this process by earning a contract that respects our work, and to continue doing what we love best—flying our hometown friends and neighbors safely around the world.
Warren said Spirit Airlines might have to move back to Terminal 2 if Sun Country falls apart. Even without Sun Country, Warren said long-term projections show an increased demand for travel in Minnesota.
Warren said current carriers will likely continue to grow and several more gates will be added in the next decade. Warren said construction on the new gates should begin by the end of June and be done in time for 2016-2017 travel season.MORE NEWS: Forest Lake Police Shoot, Wound Man 'Who Presented A Threat To Officers'
Sun Country officials had no comment.