Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport , sometimes called Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Detroit Metro Wayne Airport, Metro Airport, or simply DTW, is a major international airport in Romulus, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit and it is Michigan's busiest airport.
Detroit is a primary worldwide hub of Northwest Airlines, and is also a hub for its Northwest Airlink partners, Mesaba Airlines, Compass Airlines, and Pinnacle Airlines. It is also the second-largest base for Spirit Airlines, which is the second-largest carrier at the airport. Operated by the Wayne County Airport Authority, the airport is one of the nation's most recently expanded and modernized airports, with six major runways, two terminals, 145 in-service gates, and an attached Westin Hotel and conference center. The airport's McNamara Terminal Concourse A is the world's second-longest airport terminal building at one mile (1.6 km) (just barely beaten by the 1.06-mile [1.7 km] long Kansai International Airport). It has maintenance facilities capable of servicing and repairing aircraft as large as the Boeing 747.
In 2007, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport was the ninth-busiest airport in the United States and the nineteenth busiest airport in the world. Metro Airport also serves the Toledo, Ohio, area, which is located approximately south of the airport, and the city of Windsor, Ontario in nearby Canada.
Detroit Metro Airport will be the first U.S. airport to see regular service by the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner when it enters service, as Northwest Airlines remains the U.S. launch customer for this new aircraft. Both hub carrier Northwest Airlines and Chinese carrier China Southern Airlines plan to serve the airport with the new aircraft. The airport has access to over 160 destinations in Canada, the USA, Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
In April 2008, Delta Air Lines announced plans to acquire Northwest Airlines to form the world's largest airline. Based upon the two airline's current route networks, Detroit will become the second-largest hub and primary Asian gateway for the newly-combined carrier if the deal closes.
Between 1947 and 1950, county officials expanded the small airport to become Detroit's primary airport. The airport was renamed Detroit-Wayne Major Airport in 1947 and over the next three years expanded in size threefold as three more runways were built. In 1949, runways 3L/21R and 9L/27R were built and in 1950 runway 4R/22L was built. During this time, most commercial traffic shifted from small Detroit City Airport (now Coleman Young International Airport) northeast of downtown Detroit to the larger Willow Run Airport over twenty miles (32 km) west of the city, and ten miles (16 km) west of Wayne County Airport.
During the early 1950s, Pan-Am and BOAC began operations at Detroit-Wayne Major. 1956 marked a major turning point in the history of the growing airport. American Airlines agreed to shift operations to Detroit-Wayne, doing so two years later, accompanied by four other carriers. Also, the Civil Aviation Administration (now the FAA) announced that year the inclusion of Detroit-Wayne in the first group of American airports to receive new long-range radar equipment, enabling the airport to become the first inland airport in the United States certified for jet aircraft operations. Also in 1958, the L.C. Smith (South) Terminal was completed to accommodate the new carriers, and the airport was renamed to its present name.
During the next decade, the remaining passenger traffic at Willow Run gradually shifted to Metro Airport, and the North Terminal (later renamed the Davey Terminal) opened in 1966 to accommodate the new arrivals. Growing international traffic necessitated the building of a third terminal, the Michael Berry International Terminal, in 1974. The last of its original three parallel runways (3R/21L) was completed in 1976. A new parallel cross winds runway (9R/27L) opened in 1993.
Republic Airlines began hub operations in 1984, and its merger with Northwest Airlines in 1986 expanded the hub greatly. Transpacific operations began in 1987 with non-stop flights to Tokyo. The last of Metro's six runways (4L/22R) was completed in December 2001. The most recent addition to Metro airport, as well as the most significant, was the opening of the mile-long, 122-gate, $1.2 billion McNamara Terminal in the airport's midfield in 2002.
The present Runway 3L/21R has held four different identifier names. When opened in 1949, it was simply Runway 3/21. With the opening of the new west side Runway 3L/21R in 1950, the original 3/21 was renamed 3R/21L. With the opening of the new east side Runway 3R/21L in 1976, it was renamed 3C/21C. With the opening of Runway 4L/22R in December 2001 and the consequent splitting of the field into two sectors (3/21 on the east and 4/22 on the west) Runway 3C/21C was renamed Runway 3L/21R.
Metro Airport has recently been said to be planning a project which would include an airport rail system, a new runway, and terminal expansions. The FAA projects that air traffic will grow 67% at Detroit Metro over the next 20 years, which would equal to 60 million passengers. The rail system would connect the existing McNamara Terminal and the new North Terminal together via tram. It would also connect an anticipated consolidated rental car facility and a planned regional rail system. Also, the airport is considering lengthining Concourses B and C in the McNamara Terminal. In order to pay for these projects, the Airport Authority has asked Congress to raise the current $4.50 passenger facility fee to $7.00. Northwest Airlines, the airport hub carrier, opposes utilizing the passenger facility fee to fund the airport rail system.
The Wayne County Airport Authority has proposed a new parallel runway that would be built by 2027. This runway will add to the airports' already 4 parallel runways and alleviate future congestion.
The McNamara Terminal, also referred to as The Northwest WorldGateway, opened on February 25, 2002. It was designed by Smith Group. It was the replacement for the aged Davey Terminal, which principally housed Northwest Airlines, and during development it was known as the Midfield Terminal.
The terminal is mainly used by Northwest Airlines, but houses several other airlines as well, which are all affiliated with the SkyTeam airline alliance (of which Northwest is a member). It has three concourses, "A", "B", and "C", which house 122 gates with shopping and dining in the center of "A" concourse (known as "the link"), as well as throughout the concourses. The "A" concourse has a people mover, the ExpressTram, that gets passengers from one end of the mile-long (1.6 km) Concourse A to the other, arriving at three different boarding stations, "Terminal Station" (in the center), "North Station" and "South Station", in a little over three minutes. The McNamara Terminal will also open a new baggage sorting facility in October 2008, which will improve screening of baggage through 14 different x-ray machines with bomb detection devices implemented on the conveyor system. Northwest Airlines hopes this will reduce the amount of lost baggage, and improve the timeliness of bags getting to their correct flight.
The "A" concourse holds 64 gates with 12 gates being used for international departures and arrivals processing. The "A" concourse is intended for all but the smaller Northwest aircraft and all international arrivals. The concourse holds over of moving walkways. English and Japanese signage is found mostly throughout the terminal (because of regular flights to and from points in Japan), as well as other languages located in central areas. Various dining options for passengers include Starbucks, Chili's, McDonalds, Little Caesars, Burger King, TCBY, and Max & Erma's near gates A31 - A47, Quiznos, Hungry Howie's, and Mrs. Fields near gates A1 - A30, and Edy's, Jose Cuervo's Tequileria, Mediterranean Grill, Taco Bell, Rio Wraps, Caribou Coffee, and Charley's near gates A49 - A78.
The ten international gates have dual jetbridges for a quicker deplaning time. They also contain two exit configurations depending on the arriving flight. Domestic arrivals follow the upper path directly into the terminal while international arrivals proceed downstairs to customs and immigration. The customs and immigration office located in the terminal's lower level is built to quickly process as many as 3,200 passengers an hour. The immigration office leads back up and out into the lobby in the center of the "A" concourse, where passengers can enjoy the restaurants and shops on the concourse, or continue on their journey to their final destination.
The "B" and "C" concourses currently have fifty-eight gates. The gates are used for Northwest's smaller aircraft as well as Continental and Delta flights. All regional flights have jetbridges, eliminating the need for outdoor boarding. Shops and restaurants in Concourses B and C include Einstein Bros. Bagels, A&W, and Fuddruckers.
The following airlines use the McNamara Terminal:
The terminal is mainly used for non-SkyTeam airlines. It is considered to be the "D" Concourse of the airport as the McNamara Terminal has Concourses A, B, and C. The concourse holds 24 gates (two additional gates are expected to open in 2009) with two gates that are used for international arrivals processing (the two additional gates expected to open in 2009 will also accomodate international arrivals). It features four long stretches of moving walkways. Various dining options for passengers include Champps Restaurant and Bar, Cheeburger Cheeburger, Hockeytown Cafe, National Coney Island, Max & Erma's, Le Petite Bistro, the first-ever airport Ruby Tuesday, and TGI Friday's. Various retail options for passengers include Sports Illustrated's first-ever retail store, locally-based international bookseller Borders, Brookstone, Duty Free Americas, Everything ASAP, and the first-ever USA Today Travel Zone.
The North Terminal incorporates two security checkpoints (each with six lanes) in a way that allows smooth operation and screening of passengers. The terminal also has Customs & Immigrations facilities located on the lower level. Two widebody international gates will be opened in Spring 2009 to allow more room for international carriers.
The following charter airlines use the North Terminal:
The North Terminal will soon have a Ground Transportation Center which will be directly across from the terminal near the current "Big Blue Deck" parking structure, which will be expanded a further 604 parking spaces. It is expected that it will open at the end of October.
Originally containing six gates (two of which were removed in 2003 to allow for construction of an adjacent Northwest Airlines maintenance hangar), the terminal was later used for scheduled and charter flights. There were still several international scheduled flights on low cost carriers to destinations in the Caribbean and other warm-weathered places in the early 2000s, including flights from Champion Air, Ryan International Airlines and USA3000 Airlines. There were also four charter airlines that used this terminal.
Lufthansa German Airlines and British Airways also once served the Berry Terminal, before moving to the McNamara Terminal and, in the case of Lufthansa, the North Terminal in 2008 (British Airways ceased operation at Detroit in March 2008). Pan Am and successor Delta also served the Berry Terminal for international flights to/from London through the early 1990s.
The Smith Terminal's thirty-two gates originally housed Northwest Orient Airlines, Allegheny Airlines (forerunner to US Airways), Eastern Airlines, and Pan-Am, among others. A control tower was included in the construction, and served its purpose until the late 1980s, when a new control tower was built in the area which McNamara Terminal now occupies.
In later years, Smith Terminal hosted North American airlines other than Northwest, Continental, and later Delta, which were relocated to the McNamara Terminal after its 2002 completion.
State of the art for its time, the Smith Terminal eventually fell victim to airline expansion. The design of the building did not allow for physical expansion of the ticketing area, so to accommodate, additional ticketing counters were set up off to the side to accommodate more airlines than the original construction of the terminal called for. In contrast, the North Terminal was constructed with future expansion in mind.
Spirit Airlines, which operated out of many of the gates once used by Northwest, had done few upgrades to the gate areas in those parts of the terminal. The Northwest Airlines display boards near check-in counters at each gate remained in place, with the Northwest logos removed, and a Spirit information board simply affixed over the old display board.
On September 10, 2008, the Detroit News reported that Smith Terminal itself will not be demolished due to the Airport Authority offices remaining on the upper floors and mezzanine. However, the Detroit Free Press of October 9, 2008 stated that maintaining the terminal in its present condition would cost upwards of $4 million annually in utilities, a sore spot for airlines at DTW who foot the bill in part through airport landing fees; the airlines were hoping for a greater cost savings once the Smith and Berry Terminals were decommissioned.
Discussions were also raised regarding proposed construction of a new building to house the Airport Authority offices and Airport Police, with a preliminary price tag of $31.5 million. Meanwhile, Hollywood producers have expressed an interest in using the empty terminal for filming.
Dismantling of several of the gates in Concourse C of this terminal has already taken place as the south wing of the North Terminal is directly adjacent to this terminal. Demolition of Concourse C is scheduled to begin in October 2008 to make room for two additional gates at the North Terminal to accomodate wide-body jets.
Over time, the terminal and concourse began showing its age due to its layout and poor maintenance, hastened further by increased aircraft traffic, which it was not designed to handle efficiently. Despite this, more gates were added to Concourse C in a short-term expansion project in the early 1990s, making it 26 gates in length. This concourse was considered the worst by most travellers due to its long distance from the center of the terminal, and for its length.
The Davey Terminal was originally the principal base of operations for Republic Airlines, which merged with Northwest Orient Airlines into Northwest Airlines by 1986. Upon relocation of Northwest operations to the McNamara Terminal, the Davey Terminal was mothballed for three years before demolition of the ticketing area and Concourse G began on October 17, 2005 in preparation for the North Terminal project. All concourses of the Davey Terminal and adjoining Marriott hotel, except gates 1 thru 11 of Concourse C, were subsequently demolished in 2005-06 (the remaining gates were in use by Spirit Airlines until the new North Terminal opened on September 17, 2008).
The airport is accessible from I-94, which is the closest entrance to the Berry and Smith Terminals, and from I-275 via Eureka Road, which is closer to the McNamara Terminal. John D. Dingell Drive (named after John D. Dingell) is an expressway that runs from I-94 to Eureka Road. This expressway was built in 1999 for access to the McNamara Terminal. Many other local roads (including Goddard Road, Northline Road, Ecorse Road, Middlebelt Road, Merriman Road, and Wick Road) all have access to the airport and its surrounding property.
The Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) provides bus routes 125 (Fort Street - Detroit) and 280 (Middlebelt Road), one per hour, that connect the airport with the rest of Metro Detroit. Terminal To Terminal shuttles provide free transport between the McNamara and North Terminals. Robert Q. Airbus also provides independent shuttle services, and most hotels located within the airport parameter provide their own shuttle services as well.
The McNamara and Smith Terminals also have cell phone lots. The McNamara Terminal cell phone lot is located on the south side of Eureka Road between I-275 and the airport entrance ramp. The North Terminal cell phone lot is located near I-94 at the Middlebelt Road exit and near the on-airport car rental facilities. Both cell phone lots are clearly marked and unattended vehicles are prohibited.
Metro Airport has also introduced a new system (1>2>3 PARK) which enables travelers to pay by swiping their credit or debit card. This new system is simple because it does not need a parking stub to know the duration of the travelers' stay. As of now, the "Big Blue Deck", the surface parking lots, and the McNamara Terminal parking structure currently have and use this new system.
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