— Bishop International Airport unveiled its $4.6-million airside expansion project to the public during a ribbon cutting ceremony Dec. 2 in the new center court.
Airport Director Jim Rice kicked off the ceremony, highlighting the new additions inside the airport.
“9-11 changed our lives and airports,” he said. “We had security but nothing like today. Before, you could have a drink before you get through screening and now, you get through screening, are searched and you need a drink.” Through surveys, Rice said the need developed for an area in the terminal to allow for passengers to get a beverage and hot food.
The project includes the addition of the Gateway Grille, the Samuel Adams Toasts Flint bar and a new CNBC store. The $4.6-million project, which also includes one new and two replacement jetbridges, was paid for with funds from three source: the federal share was $3.41 million, the state paid $.09 million and the local share was $1.1 million. In addition to the expansion, Rice said the airport also became “green” with the replacement of lights and improvement of chillers and ventilation system. New paint and new flooring rounded out the project.
“This expansion takes our airside customer service up several notches,” Rice said. “We have a great relationship with our partners at MSE Branded Foods and Paradies Metro Ventures, and we would like to thank them for their willingness to continue to invest in our combined future. Both are people-oriented companies; they give great customer service and w are lucky to have them.”
At the ceremony, attendees heard from a variety of speakers from local organizations that all have a vested interest Bishop International Airport. These speakers included Janice Karcher from the Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce; Dave VanderVeen of Oakland County; and Guy Briggs, Bishop International Airport Authority Chairperson.
With the recent expansion, airport passengers have a bevy of new choices for them once they clear the security check=point. The Gateway Grille offers passengers a full hot breakfast, lunch or dinner while they wait for their departure. Passengers also can order food from the Samuel Adams Toasts Flint bar, and even have the food delivered to their table while they wait. Along with the food choices, one of the highlights of the expansion is the addition of electrical outlets located under the counter of the bar, allowing patrons to charge electrical devices within sight of their gate(s). “We are totally Wifi in the terminal,” Rice said.
“Today’s traveling public strongly desires ‘post-security’ food and beverage options. Working with our friends at Bishop International Airport, we have developed new facilities that will deliver a much higher level of customer satisfaction while also providing better revenue stream to the airport,” said Jack Hough, president of MSE Branded Foods. “With the new Samuel Adams bar, we were able to incorporate local community themes in the decor to reflect the local Flint area.”
Another highlight of the expansion is the CNBC store, an amenity that travels to and from Bishop Airport did not have.
“The Paradies Shops and its partners, Paradies Metro Ventures, Inc., are pleased to be able to continue our long-standing relationship with Bishop International Airport,” said Lou Bottino, senior vice president and chief operating officer. “Our partnership allows Flint travelers the opportunity to experience our premier national news concept CNBC in the new expanded airside facility.”
With all of the improvements to Bishop International Airport, Rice hinted that the future of the airport is positive.
“Where do we go from here? We need to keep spreading the word,” he said. “We can do better. We’re halfway there in passengers, and we have the potential for two-million passengers.”