The Metropolitan Airports Commission is weighing its options for dealing with a lack of gates at Terminal 2 at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Terminal 2, also known as the Humphrey Terminal, has been operating at capacity 8 to 10 hours a day for the past 18 months, and schedules proposed by Sun Country Airlines and Spirit Airlines for the upcoming winter require more gates than are available during peak operating time when travel demand is greatest.

Even without the additional flights, the terminal is so tight on gates during critical banks of the day that there are issues with finding a gate for arriving flights if they are delayed or a departing flight doesn't a gate leave on time.

At Monday's monthly meeting, the commission laid out three options. They are to do nothing, relocate some of the demand at Terminal 2 to the main terminal, or incrementally add gates at Terminal 2.

By doing nothing, the airport will unlikely be able to handle any growth unless airlines schedule flights at times when gates are available. Those are generally times that are inconvenient for travelers and financially more costly for airlines.  MAC staff has concluded that MSP Airport does not have enough gate capacity at either terminal to accommodate additional air service when carriers want to fly.

The second option is to relocate one of the carriers that currently use Terminal 2 to the main Terminal. But that would only exacerbate congestion both inside and outside Terminal 1. Additionally, Delta Air Lines, the main carrier at Terminal 1, has indicated that it plans to use more gates at Terminal 1 since it lost three gates due to the addition of fuel-saving wing tips on planes. It also says it could lose eight more gates when it starts flying larger regional jets that will arrive on Concourse A.

The final option, expanding Terminal 2, includes adding three gates in the near future with the possibility of growing to 27. The cost of adding 3 to 4 gates at Terminal 2 is about $35 million, and would take 18 to 24 months.

Last year, Terminal 2 handled a record number of passengers with 3,325,061 passing through the terminal. That was up 10 percent from the previous year. So far in 2013, passenger traffic is up 20 percent and on pace to serve more than 4 million passengers.

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