San Francisco airport preps for new United concourse in January

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San Francisco International airport (SFO) is putting the finishing touches on its newly rebuilt boarding area E, as it preps for a 28 January 2014 opening.

The $168 million project includes 10 gates, numbered 60 to 69, and can handle 50 arrivals and departures per day, according to the airport. Prior to being closed in 2011, the concourse housed eight gates.

United Airlines, the dominant carrier at SFO, will occupy the concourse, which is on the east side of terminal 3.

“The new terminal area will offer customers flying to and from San Francisco the unique, world-class experience they expect from the world’s leading airline,” says Kate Gebo, vice-president of corporate real estate at the Chicago-based carrier, in a statement.

United plans to use the new concourse primarily for mainline flights, it says. Flights currently operating from terminal 1 will move back to terminal 3 by the third quarter of 2014, it adds.

United told employees in 2012 that it needed the additional gates at SFO to accommodate growth at the airport.

Aircraft landings by United fell 1.8% to 78,312 during the first nine months of the year compared to 2012, airport data shows. New flights to Atlanta, Chengdu, Indianapolis and Taipei are planned in 2014.

The carrier will increase the number of seats it flies from SFO by nearly 7% to 979,000, or 44.7% of the entire market, this December, Innovata FlightMaps Analytics data shows.

Boarding area E is the first phase of a larger renovation of the eastern half of SFO’s terminal 3. The $209 million second phase will include an expanded connecting hallway between boarding areas E and F, a new 10-lane security checkpoint and improvements to the hold rooms for gates 70 and 71.

Construction of the second phase will begin shortly after phase one opens in January, and is scheduled to be fully open by July 2015.

Construction on phase one began in 2012 with opening initially scheduled for this November.

American Airlines occupied boarding area E prior to relocating to terminal 2 when that facility reopened in 2011.

Gensler designed the new boarding area E.

Check out pictures of the new concourse here.