FLINT, MI-The city has announced it has completed a major addition to its airport. James Rice, director of Bishop International Airport here, expects the facility to see one million visitors a year in a few years.

The airport is ranked the third most-used in the state with more than 640,000 passengers in 1999, after Detroit Metropolitan Airport and Willow Run Airport, both in the southern portion of Southeast Michigan.

Rice said the $13.25 million expansion was needed to handle more passengers from northern Michigan, and northern Oakland County.

The 52,000-sf addition to the five-acre terminal was completed recently, with four new boarding gates and an expanded waiting area.

The border between Genesee County, which holds Flint and Oakland County, the third richest county in the country, is exploding with new residential and commercial development. “We used to only get about 5% of our users from the southern areas, now we’re getting about 30%,” Rice says. “We had designed our last terminal expansion to last until 2001, but it just wasn’t enough to catch up to the growth.”

Bonds were sold by the Bishop International Airport Authority to pay for the expansion. Northwest Airlines is the largest carrier at the airport, just as it is at Detroit Metro, where the company is more than halfway finished building the $1.2 billion, 99-gate Midfield Terminal.

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