Gerald R. Ford International Airport is a commercial airport located a few miles southeast of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Originally called Kent County Airport and later renamed Kent County International Airport, the airport was renamed for former United States President Gerald R. Ford in December 1999. GRR is the largest regional commercial service airport serving the west Michigan community, which connects to major airports such as Detroit Metro and Chicago O'Hare.
The first regularly scheduled air service in the United States was between Grand Rapids and Detroit on a Ford-Stout monoplane named Miss Grand Rapids, which commenced July 26, 1926, from Grand Rapids' first airport which broke ground four miles (6 km) south of downtown in November 1919.
In 1948, the airport was expanded across 44th Street, and for a time, movable gates were used to keep traffic off of the runway while it was in use.
In 1959, construction began on a new facility in Cascade Township, several miles east of the original location. The new airport was opened on November 23, 1963, and officially dedicated on June 6, 1964.
The first scheduled Boeing 737-200 flight was flown for United Airlines on April 28, 1968 from Chicago O'Hare to Grand Rapids. The aircraft, registration number N9022U, was named The Jet Mainliner City of Grand Rapids.
In 1997, the new runway 17/35 was added to allow the airport to continue operations during the $32 million reconstruction of runway 8R/26L, completed in 2001. Also, the passenger terminal's renovation project was completed in 2000, at a cost of approximately $50 million.
In 2004, the airport served more than 2 million passengers for the first time in a single year.
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The main terminal contains the ticketing lobbies, three baggage claim carousels, a gift shop, a food court, a KidsPort play room, a game room, five conference rooms, and two public business centers. Short term and long term parking are located in front of the terminal. The main terminal has 12 gates. WiFi service is available at no cost to airport patrons throughout the terminal facility.
When new baggage screening regulations were introduced by the Transportation Security Administration, the airport was one of the first in the nation to conduct trials on the new screening machines. Due to their size, there was no room to locate the machines "behind the scenes." Instead, they were placed in the middle of the lobby.
Metro Cab provides taxi and luxury sedan service at the passenger terminal building curb front.
Alamo/National, Avis, Enterprise, and Hertz Rental Cars are available at ticket counters located in the far east end of the terminal lobby. Budget Rental Cars are available via shuttle from the commercial lane located across from the terminal curb front.
The Rapid runs the Grand Rapids Air Porter from the airport to downtown hotels from April through October.
, Route 17 Woodland/Airport travels between the airport and Woodland Mall seven days a week. Routes 5 (weekdays only) and 6 (7-day service) provide service to Central Station from Woodland. From Woodland, Route 44 provides weekday only service to Rivertown Crossings Mall.
There is also a viewing area, situated on Kraft Avenue north of 52nd Street. The viewing area includes picnic tables litter barrels and a portable toilet. At the viewing area, radio station 1650 AM rebroadcasts transmissions by air traffic controllers, pilots, and GFIA airfield operations staff.
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