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May 6, 2013 9:00 PM by Danielle Lerner

TIA on track to start renovation project

TUCSON- Tucson International Airport is on track to get some upgrades over the next few years. All part of a renovation improvement project known as "TRIP." It is still only in the design phase, but early estimates put the cost anywhere between $3 and $12 million.

"The biggest goal is improving the level of service to our customers," said Lorraine Behr, manager of architectural services.

The airport hopes to do that in two ways. The first, is expanding and relocating security checkpoints. The second is providing more amenities for travelers heading to their gates.

"Additional dining areas post security, we're looking at doing some type of kiosks, ATMs, vending type style concessions," Behr said.

The project is kicking off at a time when TIA is seeing flight reductions and more empty counters. The hope is the renovations will make the airport more cost effective, and that is something airlines look at when considering their schedules.

"It's really helping us more efficiently utilize all the space that we have," said CFO Richard Gruentzel. "It will generate additional revenue in the concession areas, which helps us reduce our airline costs."

It is too early to know when construction will start or how much federal and state funding will help foot the bill. Still, airport officials hope the project improves the travel experience while helping TIA navigate the ever-changing airline industry.

"They're much more focused on the bottom line," said Gruentzel. "Trying to convince them right now to add more service is much more difficult than it used to be back 5 or 6 years ago."

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