Giving passengers a warm welcome -- It hasn't always been the case at the Central Nebraska Regional Airport, at least for passengers arriving from Dallas on cold days.
Now the increasingly busy airport approves bids for a modern new terminal.
Airport Authority Chair Lynne Werner said, "Operating from an old terminal to a $14 million terminal with a jet bridge and new baggage and fabulous design is something we're so thrilled about."
Werner thinks they could hit 60,000 boardings this year, which would be an all-time high.
She says central Nebraska passengers have bought in to flying locally.
"Check Grand Island first, check our rates first, our convenience is definitely here," she said. "There's no sense to get on I-80 and head east anymore."
The attorney for the airport jokes it wasn't that many years ago you could've played softball in the parking lot. There weren't even enough cars to use as bases. Now they've added overflow parking, even a covered parking garage.
Executive Director Mike Olson said, "This is truly become a regional airport."
The airport director believes a new terminal will enhance the appeal, and said this is a "very big deal" for them.
"We've not had a single project of this magnitude ever in the history of this airport," he said.
They received three bids, the lowest from Hausmann Construction of LinLincoln, totaling3,956,000. Sampson Construction bid $15,361,739 and Boyd Jones had the high bid of $15,992,000.
Olson said bids were higher than hoped for. Consultants tell the airport construction costs are up across the country. Officials said the economic downturn five years ago caused many construction workers to go back to school and leave the industry, creating a labor shortage.
The bid is contingent on receiving some federal aid, so the airport director heads to Washington next week to visit with Rep. Adrian Smith and Sen. Deb Fischer.
Olson said, "Using our political backing to assure we get full funding, and get it sooner rather than later."
They'll file the paperwork immediately, hoping for a quick response.
Werner said, "It's going to be a phenomenal project and something I think Grand Island and whole community is going to be so proud of."
Werner says the new terminal will have modern amenities including a jet bridge, something they have lacked.
They also want to build a new terminal on the private plane side. Bids were higher than they wanted, so they re-bid, and didn't see any improvement.