What makes a new airport new?

Okay, here’s a quick quiz: new airport or new terminal? Pittsburgh. Denver. Washington National. Indianapolis.

It seems easy until you think about it. When Pittsburgh opened a “new airport” in October 1992, it used the same runways, airfield etc. But the airport site, the terminals, roadways and all affiliated apparatus, were brand new and lovely. So was it a new airport?

Then there's Denver. Well, that really is a new airport, or it was in 1995, when they abandoned the old Stapleton. They built it in the middle of nowhere–nowhere that’s very far from town, as anyone who’s tried cabbing it downtown will tell you.

What about Washington National, now called Reagan Washington National? Well, whether or not you’ve decided a totally new airport terminal counts as (a) a new terminal or (b) a new airport, you have to be careful. Here, they be made it a point to call it the ‘renovated’ National because local anti-noise activists were ready to sue the moment the airport moved toward any increase in capacity. So, when it opened in July 1997, it was just plain National.

What do we say about Indianapolis? The city touts its soon-to-open facility (November 11) as a totally new airport, and it is, unless you count the two old parallel runways. In that case, it’s just a new terminal, albeit a very nice one. Not to mention the new air traffic control tower that opened two years ago.

So, what is new?

A special thanks to Airline Business Americas editor David Field for guestblogging.

(Photos from Indianapolis International Airport).

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