The newly completed terminal at Manhattan Regional Airport was overflowing with excitement on Thursday afternoon when a large crowd gathered in the luxurious new space for a ribbon cutting ceremony. The 42,000-square-foot terminal was completed on Dec. 23, 2016, after more than three years of construction funded mostly by the Federal Aviation Administration. Travelers who commute through the airport can new enjoy amenities including a baggage carousel, revolving security doors, and an additional jet bridge. After partnering with American Airlines in 2008, it became evident the airport would need a larger space than the 12,000-square-foot terminally it previously occupied.

“We didn’t see anything like this happening,” said Dale Morris, a government affairs employee with American Airlines. “Manhattan…set the precedent for other cities to follow.”

Morris said there were not many other small communities at the time who were full of such big ideas. A flight to Dallas was implemented in 2008, and after much success, American gave MHK a connecting flight to Chicago O’Hare. According to Morris, more connecting flights would not be out of the question as long as the community continues to support it.

Manhattan mayor Usha Reddi reminisced about the “old days” – shivering as the baggage was tossed into the old terminal from the tarmac, or even flying in a small plane to Kansas City in order to connect to larger flights.

The airport, which was once the topic of a region-wide study, now sees more than 60,000 enplanements per year.

“Prior to this job, I was at the state aviation office. I kept track of Manhattan,” said Jesse Romo, director of Manhattan Regional Airport. “I loved to see the growth that the community had, as well as the airport.”

In his nearly three years at the airport, Romo has helped lead the airport to new heights with the new terminal. Residents of the Flint Hills may be anxiously waiting for bigger jets or flights to Denver, but visitors to Manhattan will now step off their flights and into a building that is a true gem in northeast Kansas.

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Source: KMAN Local News