Reporting Michele Gile
SANTA ANA (CBS) — After a two-year expansion project, John Wayne Airport is doing a show-and-tell of the ongoing changes designed to create a better and more secure flying experience for passengers.
One big change is that international travelers may be able to fly in and out of John Wayne Airport within the next year.
The airport has slowly been opening its new Terminal C over the past couple of weeks, with arriving and departing flights bringing in six additional passenger gates.
Check-in at the new Southwest and Frontier ticket counters will begin on Monday.
Officials led media on a tour Wednesday, showing off improvements that cost more than $500 million.
One major change at John Wayne is accommodations for international arrivals and a U.S. Customs screening area.
“We’re going to be limited just due to the size of the airport. We’re not going to be able to fly to Asia or Europe, unfortunately. But we think there is a real interest in Mexico and potentially Central America flights, so we’re going to be in a position now where we can provide that. We’ve already talked with a number of carriers to make them aware of that and hopeful that there may be some interest,” said Airport Manager Alan Murphy.
Another highlight of the new and improved Orange County airport is its expanded concessions, which are still under construction.
Local favorites, such as Zovs, Jerry’s Dogs and Pei Wei are among the restaurants that will soon open.
Five additional security lanes have been added, bringing the total at the airport to 11. The latest imaging technology has been purchased.
Ontario is the only other airport in Southern California with similar screening devices.
What makes the new scanner more acceptable for passengers is the fact that it is not body specific, producing cookie-cutter like images.
WiFi is available throughout all terminals, new work stations, extra outlets and touch-screen check-in terminals with access to all 12 airlines.
There is even an art exhibit in Terminal C on loan from the Smithsonian.
“I love it. I was just asking my finance, ‘want to take a picture,’” said passenger Nikki Mobasseri.
With the new terminal, John Wayne Airport can now handle nearly 11 million passengers a year.