Northwest Airlines and Wayne County today opened the Edward H. McNamara Terminal / Northwest WorldGateway, setting a new standard for airport design by placing a premium on customer-friendly features.
“From a customer’s point of view, this facility is superior to other airports across the country,” said Richard Anderson, CEO of Northwest Airlines. “We believe that once customers experience the efficiencies of the new Northwest facility, they will make Detroit their connecting hub of choice.”
“This is a proud day for the people of Detroit, Wayne County and all of Michigan,” said Wayne County Executive Edward H. McNamara, for whom the facility is named. “We’re eager to welcome the world to our new terminal and let them experience Michigan hospitality.”
Northwest and its partners Continental, KLM, Mesaba and Express Airlines I all begin service from the new terminal today. Other airlines will remain in their existing homes at the Smith and Berry Terminals.
Among the amenities in the 97-gate facility terminal: More than 80 shops and restaurants, Express Trams that travel the mile-long Concourse A, four Northwest WorldClubs, 18 luggage carousels (11 domestic and seven international), an 11,500-space parking garage, loading bridges on all gates (including regional jets and turbo-props) and international and domestic connections in the same facility.
The first passengers to arrive at the terminal - those on flight NW 922 from Honolulu - were greeted by Anderson and McNamara in a ceremony held at the arrival gate. Less than an hour later, NW 273 departed for Memphis, TN.
“We designed this terminal to take the hassle out of air travel,” said Doug Steenland, Northwest president, who joined Anderson and McNamara at the terminal opening. “Whether passengers are arriving, departing or connecting, this facility has features that will make their trip easier, faster and more enjoyable.”
The facility is the result of a successful public/private partnership. Northwest and Wayne County reached an agreement in October 1996 to build the terminal. Northwest oversaw the design and construction of the facility, working with Detroit-based architecture and engineering firm SmithGroup, while Wayne County oversaw improvements at the airfield and developed the concessions program. Wayne County will own the facility, with Northwest as the primary tenant.
The terminal is the latest in a series of development projects in the Detroit area, including stadiums for the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions, three downtown casinos, the renovation of the Renaissance Center and subsequent relocation there by General Motors, and the relocation of Compuware Corporation from suburban Farmington Hills, Mich., to downtown Detroit.
“Detroit is a city with a bright future,” McNamara said. “This terminal is another step forward, a chance for the people of the world to see the progress Detroit and its people have made by working together.”
The terminal incorporates the sights, sounds and tastes of Michigan among its 80 shops and restaurants. Passengers can buy souvenirs at the Henry Ford Museum Store, the General Motors Gift Shop or the Motown Music Review. They can sample the flavors of local favorites Little Caesars Pizza, Gayle’s Chocolates, Pizza Papalis or The Mediterranean Grill.
Detroit is Northwest’s largest hub, and engineering a move of this scale required years of planning. The airline moved 85 percent of its equipment to the new terminal prior to Saturday, but also moved 38 airplanes and more than 2,700 pieces of ground equipment Saturday from its old home at the Davey Terminal.
“Northwest employees deserve strong praise for their efforts in making this transition so smooth,” said Bob Ball, Northwest vice president, customer service/ground operations in Detroit. “This facility not only is a victory for our customers, but for our people as well.”