Air Transport World

Upsizing San Jose: Silicon Valley airport struggles to find space for baggage screening as it expands passenger facilities. (Airports).

As it proceeds with a master plan that ultimately will give it a 49-gate terminal, Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport faced what its director calls "the most difficult problem I've seen in 38 years in this business": How to fit explosive detection equipment into an already-overcrowded ticket lobby.

Terminal A currently handles 70% of San Jose's traffic and is home to the airport's first- and second-busiest airlines--Southwest and American respectively. But its triangular lobby "is a natural chokepoint [and] the space there is very, very small," says Director of Aviation Ralph G. Tonseth.

Southwest Station Manager Steve Oakley says flatly, "There is no space in our ticketing area for baggage screening. I don't know where to put it. I don't have enough space now for my existing operations."

The solution was to build five temporary buildings on the ramp--two at Terminal A and three at Terminal C-for the large explosive detection machines. The Transportation Security Administration paid for the buildings and will not reveal the cost.

Today's security headache is a far cry from the prime worry that faced the airport at the end of the last decade: Meeting the needs of a growing customer base in the environmentally correct San Francisco Bay area. …

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