LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - It's the first impression for anyone traveling into Lubbock by plane, the Preston Smith International Airport.
Right now, the Airport Advisory Board is designing a plan for a facelift for the current terminal. Plans for a new rental car facility were approved by City Council a few weeks back.
The terminal renovation project is all conceptual at this time, since the airport has to wait for federal grants to make it possible, but the board hopes to make changes to the look and the flow of traffic at the airport.
"To our travelers and our visitors...it's the gateway to our community. It's the very first thing you see when you land," Visit Lubbock CEO, John Osborne, said.
Osborn says around six million visitors came to Lubbock last year; 13 percent of those people came in through the Lubbock airport.
That adds up to nearly 800,000 visitors flying through LBB, a number that he says grows each year.
Osborn says a visitor's experience at our airport really does matter.
"This is an opportunity to show them the hospitality that we have here, to show them that we're interested in them being here and that we want them to be here," Osborn said.
Kelly Campbell, Executive Director of Aviation, presented the plans for the Terminal Building Improvements project to the airport board on Wednesday afternoon.
The plans are still in the design phase and not official, but she says it includes creating a more visually appealing design with new floors, ceilings and fresh paint.
The other component is creating a better layout than the current setup.
"Today we have screening in the middle of the building, we have baggage claim operations on each end. We want to create a bigger screening area and eliminate that bottleneck. We'd also like to address, we have a lot of congestion in front of the terminal building when we have multiple arrivals and departures at the same time," Campbell said. "It really goes hand in hand with the rental car project. Baggage claim would all be on the south side, the exit would be on the south side and so anybody renting a car or who has just parked in the parking lot, they'll exit and everything will be right there."
Osborne says the renovations would boost the amount of visitors Lubbock sees and could even increase the chance of conventions and meetings coming to town.
"The meeting planners, when they come and do a site visit, they look at every aspect. Not just the hotel, not just the venue, not just the places to eat and the attractions that we have here in town. They're also looking at the experience that their people that are coming to the meetings are going to have through the airport and the rental car facilities and such," he said.
Campbell says the airport is awaiting word about the federal grants, but she says the hope is to start construction within a year.