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ORLANDO-A final $25 million design contract on the $1 billion expansion of Orlando International Airport is on the back burner today after the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority voted to hold off signing the deal with St. Louis-based architects, Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum Inc.

Before the money is pledged, GOAA officials want to know how much design revision is needed to comply with new Federal Aviation Agency rules on security. They also want to know the cost of the extra work.

The architects, however, are being paid $6 million for the preliminary design work they have completed to date, especially on the new south terminal where most of the design revision may have to be made.

Major airlines which use OIA and underwrite all expansion programs must agree on the $25 million contract. No airline has asked OIA so far to delay any aspect of the expansion, aviation consultants who deal with GOAA regularly tell GlobeSt.com.

Meanwhile, $232 million worth of construction projects are near completion. A fourth runway and a taxiway are among the projects unaffected by the main FAA ruling on discontinuing curbside pickup of passengers’ luggage.

The entire $1 billion construction program, in the works for 10 years, is scheduled for completion by June 2005.

“This will set them back some but not a whole lot,” a construction industry executive familiar with the airport’s construction schedule tells GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity.

But the key question GOAA officials have to determine now is how much passenger demand there will be over the next few years for the new and existing terminals. The terminals are expected to handle a total 38 million passengers a year by 2005. That’s up from the 31 million passenger projection for this year.

GOAA officials couldn’t be reached at GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline. But area aviation industry consultants tell GlobeSt.com the final portion of the expansion will be done as scheduled.

“OIA has an opportunity to show the other national airports and the world how a world-class airport should be designed to deter future planned terrorist acts,” one consultant not associated with GOAA or the contract tells GlobeSt.com.

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