Monroe County has hired NV2A Gulf Keystar, a joint venture of the Miami-based NV2A Group and the Key West-based Gulf Keystar, to expand Key West International Airport. The project will add enclosed jetways, a new concourse, baggage services, concession areas and rental car facilities. MONROE COUNTY/Contributed

Tired of overcrowded departure areas and an outdated baggage claim at Key West International Airport? Not for long.

Monroe County has selected a joint-venture firm, NV2A Gulf Keystar, as the lead contractor for an estimated $80 million airport expansion with a targeted completion date of October 2024.

“Obviously, we’re hoping to beat that target goal,” said Carolina Correa of NV2A Group.

Despite the beloved island charm of Key West International Airport, the days of passengers walking across the tarmac when arriving and departing soon will be gone.

“I completely understand. We all don’t want things enclosed, and we like our small-town airport, but it really is a liability issue, having people walk outside and across the tarmac,” County Mayor Michelle Coldiron said following a meeting earlier this year, when airports director Richard Strickland presented the expansion plans.

He said the project will include a new concourse at the Key West airport that also will include a new security checkpoint, new gates, a new “hold room” for departing passengers, new concessions, a new baggage claim area, a new rental car facility and glass-enclosed jet bridges, or jetways, to connect the planes with the building. 

“There will be much more space to spread out and the new design overall will enhance the customer experience and the services we can provide,” Strickland told a crowd of about 75 people at the Marriott Beachside Hotel in April. “People won’t all be crunched together and on top of each other while waiting to depart or while waiting for their baggage. It’s the right amount of facility for the projected numbers of passengers we’re dealing with.”

Now that it has been selected, NV2A Group describes the project on its website, which states:

Richard Strickland, Monroe County airports director, presents renderings of the new concourse at Key West airport that is slated for completion in October 2024. Contributed

“The future Concourse A complex at Key West International Airport consists of an open, modern and efficient concourse building totaling 48,802 square feet including spaces for gates/hold rooms, circulation, restrooms and support areas.

“The building’s design by McFarland Johnson … features a single-story concrete structure with clerestory windows on the south side … to allow natural lighting and give a sense of transparency while enhancing the passenger experience. The new concourse will be accessed from the main terminal by an extended pedestrian bridge. Below the new concourse, there will be an additional baggage area and device, airline ramp spaces, and ramp equipment storage.

“Additionally, the existing landside terminal building will be renovated and improved to accommodate an expanded security checkpoint with four lanes and added support spaces at the existing restaurant location. Concourse A will provide expanded concession opportunities within the new construction. A new extended passenger bridge located beyond security will connect the existing landside terminal building with the new Concourse A. It will also provide passengers with direct access to the lower-level baggage claim area. At the existing ground level Concourse, a planned baggage-claim expansion will provide efficiency to support the increased baggage operations.

“A new rent-a-car facility area and baggage service offices will be provided within the ground level expanded baggage claim hall and airline ramp level support offices will be centralized at the ground level.”

Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.