Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) broke ground this week on a fifth passenger terminal, due to open in 2026.
FLL’s most significant project in a decade, Terminal 5, will cost a projected $404 million and add 230,000 square feet to the airport. It will include five gates for domestic flights and dedicated check-in and ticketing areas, arrival and departure baggage processing, a security checkpoint, and space for retail and restaurants spread across two levels.
A two-level pedestrian bridge will connect Terminals 4 and 5, one level airside for passengers who have cleared security and the other landside. Terminal 5 will also be connected to an adjacent, existing parking garage.
“The new terminal will help provide the needed critical infrastructure required to propel FLL forward by creating opportunities for new and existing airline partners to grow and help set the stage for future master plan expansion activities,” said airport director Mark Gale.
Constructing a new terminal, rather than remodeling an existing building, gives FLL a “blank canvas to creatively seek opportunities to add new amenities and services,” he added.
Located north of Miami, FLL has seen a recent surge in passenger demand and increased air traffic. Between January and August of this year, 23.7 million travelers passed through the airport, a significant increase from the 21.3 million who used the airport during the same period in 2022.
The airport expects to serve a total of 35 million passengers this year, with annual traffic forecasted to hit 52 million within the next twenty years. Terminal 5 will accommodate four to five million passengers annually and increase the airport’s total number of gates to 71.
FLL’s two largest tenant airlines, Spirit Airlines, and JetBlue Airways, are driving growth at the airport and have been discussing the possibility of a new terminal with airport officials since before the pandemic in early 2020.
Spirit Airlines, headquartered in nearby Miramar, Florida, had a leading 31% market share at FLL in August, followed by JetBlue with 22%. FLL officials said that one of those two airlines would likely occupy Terminal 5’s new gates, but allocation depends on the outcome of a contested merger between the companies.
In July 2022, the two budget airlines agreed to a $3.8 billion merger to create the country’s fifth-largest airline, operating under JetBlue’s banner. However, the proposed union has been subject to close scrutiny by anti-trust regulators. In March, the Department of Justice sued to stop the takeover, arguing that the merger would give JetBlue a disproportionate share of the low-cost air travel market, reduce competition, and drive up passenger fares.
To assuage regulators’ concerns, JetBlue has been divesting from some of its holdings at airports, transferring them to ultra-low-cost competitor Allegiant Air. At Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport, it will cede control of five existing gates to the Broward County Aviation Department and work with the department to enable Allegiant’s growth at the airport.
Other major tenants at the FLL include Southwest Airlines (12.9% market share in August) and Delta Air Lines (11.4%). In addition to Allegiant, low-cost carriers Frontier Airlines and Avelo Airlines are also interested in increasing their presence at FLL, said airport director Mark Gale.
“Our goal is to try to make sure we can provide a variety of airline services to the citizens of Broward County,” he said.
An expanded airport will also bring more tourists and convention business to the area, Anthony Cordo, executive vice president of Visit Lauderdale, told the Miami Herald. Broward County Convention Center, located a 15-minute drive from the airport, is undergoing an expansion that will be completed in 2025.
“Terminal 5 gives us capacity to add new routes,” Cordo said at Terminal 5’s groundbreaking ceremony Monday. “That is critical to getting the large-scale conventions we’re working to get.”
The airport also hopes to vie with Miami International Airport (MIA), bringing travelers to and from the wider Miami metropolitan area.