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Sky Harbor mulling international passenger area upgrades

PHOENIX — Phoenix Sky Harbor is planning to keep pace with influx of international travelers by possibly reworking an area of the airport.

Deputy Aviation Director Deborah Oestreicher said the rise in international travelers is reason enough for the airport to work on a plan to improve the international arrival area.

“As soon as you get off an international flight, you go into an area that you’re still technically not in the United States,” she said. “This is where they check your passport. And then moving on toward the baggage claim area, as we get more flights and more passengers coming through, we want to make sure it’s easy and efficient to pick up your bags because, from there, you then go through an area where they check to see what you’re brining into the country.”

Six airlines currently offer international service through seven gates at Terminal 4.

“We are always working on international air service,” she said. “It’s very important to this community. We have the passengers here looking to fly non-stop to international destinations and we have people around the world that want to come here to the Valley, not only for business, but for leisure time.”

Oestreicher said the airport will present its improvement plan to city council members. If they approve, the airport will put out a request for proposals.

The upgrades are estimated at $27 million and would be paid with passenger user fees.

In 2012, Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport welcomed 2.2 million international passengers. By 2030, the airport expects to serve 4.4 million international passengers.