Virgin Atlantic Airways has signed a long-term agreement for a $58 million international 12-gate terminal to be built at Orlando airport, Florida.

The recent approval of the lease, which runs until 2008 for one gate, is described by Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) officials as "unique" for a foreign airline to make such a long-term commitment. "We're breaking ground with this agreement," says Keith Phildius at Orlando.

Virgin will receive concessions on landing fees and voting rights in the terminal construction. It plans an upper-class lounge and clubhouse and drive-through check-in services. Virgin flies three round-trip daily Boeing 747 flights from Orlando to London and Manchester. The deal is expected to bring commitments from other UK and European carriers. British Airways and Britannia are talking to Orlando officials.

"This is a key first significant step in achieving the commitments necessary to build the new terminal and related gates in our south complex, which will open in late 2002," says Egerton van den Berg, executive director of the GOAA.

Source: Airline Business