The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority has winnowed down to six the number of finalists to build the first part of Orlando International Airport's south terminal, a 16-to-24 gate complex.
Aviation authority officials have stayed local for the most part in shortlisting candidates for the $1.8 billion project. Five of the six finalists are based in Orlando, while the other is headquartered in Fort Lauderdale.
"This project is designed for what we do," said Danny Hoisman, senior vice president at Tutor Perini. "We've done work at Kennedy Airport, and really across the country, and currently we have a team working at Fort Lauderdale airport. Working on a project like this would further our name in the (Orlando) area, allowing our success to become well known."
Right now, the authority's professional services committee is interviewing the builders and airport staff is doing background checks.
The professional services committee will make a recommendation to the aviation authority, which will formally choose the company.
"We have to make sure they have experience, the right personnel, the qualifications of the company and the individuals are solid and they have track record of bringing projects in on budget," said Stan Thornton, chief operating officer of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.
Thornton did not say when the selection will be made, but it likely to be sooner rather than later.
The trigger for construction to begin is when the airport hits 38.5 million passengers on a rolling 12 month basis that is sustained for six months. The latest available count was 38.4 million in November. The numbers for December, an immensely busy month, will be released Feb. 1, and could put the airport on pace for the project to go ahead in June.
The terminal could open as soon as 2019, airport officials say.
The south terminal is just one component of the airport's planned expansion, as its growth in domestic and foreign fliers continues to surge.
Already slated for near the south terminal is a $470,000, 500,000-square-foot complex that will include a rail system for taking passengers to terminals, a garage that will fit 2,400 cars and ground transportation in the form of buses, shuttles and cabs.
The complex will also include the airport's new train depot, a $211 million project that will serve as destination for rail projects, including All Aboard Florida.
The expansion of Orlando International Airport could also ultimately include two hotels as the transportation hub builds out its southern extension.