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Airport will start bid process Friday to build south terminal

The building of a south terminal at Orlando International Airport, one of the bigger projects to hit the area in some time, will require plenty of talent from the building community.

The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority is looking for a prime design consultant, an architect, a civil engineer, a mechanical engineer, a system technology consultant and even an international cultural consultant, among other early phase contractors for the terminal project, which was approved by the authority Wednesday.

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The authority is planning to start seeking bids Friday. But the project's scope--$1.8 billion over the next four years--means that developers and a myriad of mid- and later-stage contractors will also be called in.

"We're going to grow and we need to be prepared for that demand," said aviation authority Chairman Frank Kruppenbacher as he, and the rest of the board, voted unanimously in favor of the terminal.

As of the end of March, the airport was serving 36.4 million passengers on an annualized basis, getting close to its record 37.2 million set in 2007. There was talk of a southern terminal then, but the recession hit and the project was put on the back burner.

The airport is on a trajectory to soon pass that level, given new carriers that are now flying into Orlando and additional flights by those that already use the airport, said Greater Orlando Aviation Authority Executive Director Phillip Brown.

The authority also heard from Sean Snaith, director of the University of Central Florida's Institute for Economic Competitiveness, who said plans by Disney for a "multi-generational" Star Wars attraction and Emirates' planned service from Dubai to Orlando would bring even more people to Orlando, with Emirates likely being followed by other Asian airlines.

Snaith estimated OIA's passenger count to be 40 million by 2017 and close to 45 million by 2020.

"Orlando is going to become much more accessible and popular," Snaith said.

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