The project, which is being jointly constructed by airport operator Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacífico (GAP) and privately held Otay-Tijuana Ventures, will connect the existing terminal with a new building in the USA via a roughly 150m (500ft) bridge. Construction began in July and is expected to be complete in the first quarter of 2015.
Passengers with boarding passes will be able to access the bridge, clearing Mexican customs and passing through security on the south side or entering the USA via a new federal inspections facility on the north side, explains GAP chief commercial officer Tomas Ramirez. This will eliminate the often multi-hour border crossing at the existing highway checkpoints outside the airport.
No check-in counters are expected to open in the US terminal, says Ramirez. Instead, passengers will have to use electronic ticketing kiosks or print their boarding passes at home.
Without the added border crossing hassle, GAP expects Tijuana to add about 100,000 passengers per year for one million new passengers by 2025 with the new facility, says Ramirez.
Much of this growth would come from new travellers from the San Diego area and southern California. Domestic flights from Tijuana are significantly cheaper than international flights from nearby San Diego International, which is a significant consideration to cost-conscious visiting friends and relatives (VFR) travellers.
More than one million people of Hispanic or Latino origin lived in San Diego county in 2012, according to the US census.
Aeromexico, Interjet, Volaris and VivaAerobus all operate domestic flights from Tijuana, Innovata FlightMaps Analytics shows. Volaris is largest offering 69%, or 191,000, of the available seats in the market in December.
GAP hopes to land more international flights at Tijuana as a result of the terminal, says Ramirez. They are in talks with an airline regarding potential new service to South Korea, he says.
Aeromexico flies from Tijuana to both Shanghai Pudong and Tokyo Narita, Innovata schedules show.