Facelift about to get underway at Hancock Airport

The 'wavy ceiling' inside Hancock

Hancock International Airport is about to get a major upgrade, and it should make the security lines a lot quicker to get through.The Syracuse Common Council will consider bonding for the $63-million project at its study session on Wednesday, though all the money would be reimbursed, from federal security surcharges paid on airlines tickets. Airport Commissioner Rory McMahon says the two security checkpoints will be merged, and several other parts of Hancock's operation will change as a result. Security will be consolidated. The two stations, one in each wing, will be changed into one large room to be built on a second floor above the centerpiece 'flying' display. The bigger screening area will make room for new body scanners. At this point they're waiting for federal regulators to say how many stations there will be in the room, but McMahon says there will be more than the current two, which will make long lines a thing of the past. The baggage screening areas in each wing will also be moved out of public sight, which will make them more secure and efficient. A big escalator, to get travelers from the curbside entrance to screening, will displace part of the flying display. The display itself will stay. McMahon says it's a favorite for kids and delayed or stranded travelers. The 'wavy' ceiling over that area - actually part of camouflage for security reasons when it was built - will be replaced. Also, the shop and cafe will be moved to make a bigger entrance. McMahon says right now this location does not get much business because most visitors go through security before they eat and shop. Other venues may also be beefed up. Bids are already set for the first phase of construction, replacing the out-of-public view heating and upgrading the vendors' kitchens. McMahon says these renovations will also make Hancock one of the greenest airports in the country, as lights, boilers, and tiles become more energy efficient. The entire project will be completed by the fall of 2012. The project is also an affirmation that 'flying is back.' For the first time since 2004, overflow lots have been used this year to accomodate more flyers, and McMahon says with the addition of Air Canada, airline expansion at Hancock has started up again. To see a video walking tour of the proposed renovations to Hancock Airport, click on the video icon.