New international terminal coming to Santiago, Chile’s airport

The new space will open in 2019 and have the capacity to receive up to 29 million visitors annually.

Thanks to Chile’s rapidly expanding popularity as a travel and business destination, Santiago’s Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport is receiving a major upgrade.

Chile’s Ministry of Public Works recently announced the details of the airport’s new international terminal, which will increase the facility’s capacity to 29 million visitors annually – more than tripling the current 9 million capacity. The expansion will also offer double the number of parking spaces available at the airport.

Set to open in 2019, the new terminal will feature a building of nearly 2 million square feet (175,000 sq m), 33 new passenger boarding bridges, 74 ticket counters, 56 immigration booths, 25 self-check-in modules, and seven baggage conveyors, according to La Tercera. An additional 4,100 parking spaces will also be added across two three-level structures, and a large park will connect the national and international terminals.

The expansion is expected to cost US$ 720 million, and aims to provide both function and flair. Four of the new passenger boarding bridges, for example, will be designed in a way that reflects a distinct area of Chile.

In addition, a Central Plaza of greenery and ponds is set to be constructed between the international and national terminals. Two boulevards with shops and restaurants will flank the Plaza.The new international terminal will also be sustainable, consuming 35% less energy than a standard structure. It will also use fewer materials that are considered harmful to the environment, and recover the heat generated by computer equipment to support the building’s heating system.

Outside the building, a large glass canopy will shield passengers from direct sunlight during summer months, diminishing the need for energy-guzzling cooling systems. In the future, the Ministry of Public Works hopes to incorporate solar panels into the structure.

«With [the new additions], Santiago will have the first airport in South America to join the trends of Europe, Asia and North America, which include spaces for entertainment or commercial options for passengers that may need to spend several hours there,» Pablo Allard, Dean of Architecture Faculty at Universidad del Desarrollo, told La Tercera.