Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport

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Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport Template:Airport codes is the largest and busiest airport in the state of Minnesota, straddling the southern border of the cities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. It is a major hub for Northwest Airlines and Sun Country Airlines, both headquarted nearby. Northwest accounts for more than 70% of the airport's passenger traffic. It is operated by the Metropolitan Airports Commission, which also handles operation of six smaller airports in the region.

The airport first came into being when several local groups came together to take control of a former speedway, giving the airport its original name, Speedway Field. Soon after, in 1921, the airport was renamed Wold-Chamberlain Field for the World War I pilots Ernest Groves Wold and Cyrus Foss Chamberlain. In 1944, the site was renamed to Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Airport/Wold-Chamberlain Field, with "International" replacing "Metropolitan" four years later. Today, it is very rare to see the Wold-Chamberlain portion of the name used anywhere.

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Description

Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport has two terminals, both of which are named for famous Minnesotans; the Lindbergh Terminal (named for aviator Charles Lindbergh) and the much smaller Humphrey Terminal (named for former US Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey). Lindbergh Terminal officially has seven concourses, lettered A-G, with the Humphrey terminal known as Concourse H.

Like many other airports, MSP interconnects with several other forms of transportation. Several large parking ramps are available for cars. Most other connections are made at the Hub Building and adjacent Transit Center, which has city and shuttle bus, taxi, and rental car service. Two trams (people movers) are at the airport. One carries passengers from the main section of Lindbergh Terminal to the Hub Bulding, and another runs along a long concourse in that terminal.

The airport is near Fort Snelling, one of the earliest white settlements in the area which is now a historic site. Both the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers flow nearby. Minnesota State Highway 5 provides the closest entrance to the Lindbergh Terminal, just a short distance from Interstate 494. The Humphrey Terminal is accessed via the 34th Avenue exit from I-494. That road runs past Fort Snelling National Cemetery. Some airlines at the airport have hangars arranged along I-494 and 34th Avenue, so it's possible to see airliners undergoing maintenance while driving past, although some hangars have been removed in recent years.

The Hiawatha Line light-rail project has stops at both the Hub Building (Lindbergh Station) and Humphrey Terminal (Humphrey Station). It connects the airport with downtown Minneapolis as well as with the Mall of America in nearby Bloomington, and operates as a shuttle service between the two airport terminals. Travelers can use the rail line for free to go between the two sites at all times of day—it is the only part of the line that operates continuously through the night (the rest shuts down for about four hours early in the morning). Passengers going beyond the airport grounds must pay a standard fare, however. Two parallel tunnels for the line run roughly 70 feet (20 meters) below the airport, and at 1.7 miles (2.7 km) in length are the longest tunnels on the route. The Lindbergh Terminal station is the only one underground on the line, as the rails return to the surface near Humphrey Terminal. Due to current concerns about terrorism, a great deal of effort went into ensuring that the tunnels are highly blast-resistant. The underground portion was the costliest section of the rail project.

Northwest Airlines has expanded operations at the airport over the years. In the past, Northwest and others have proposed moving out of MSP airport and expanding one of the regional airports farther out in the Twin Cities metro area to handle large jets and international traffic. Minneapolis and other neighboring cities were concerned that such a move would have a negative economic impact, so an arrangement was made where the Metropolitan Airports Commission would outfit many homes in the vicinity of the airport with sound insulation and air conditioning so that indoor noise could be reduced. A citizen group named ROAR (Residents Opposed to Airport Racket) was created in 1998 and helped push the MAC to make these concessions. Later, in 2004, the MAC voted to reduce funding for the soundproofing projects, stating in part that the economic climate had turned in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, who had been a founding member of ROAR, promised that the city would challenge the funding changes.

In 2004 Northwest Airlines proposed expanding the Lindbergh terminal to accommodate expanded operations. The proposed expansion includes moving all airlines, other than Northwest's Skyteam Alliance partners, to the Humphrey Terminal. This reignited concerns about Northwest Airlines's control of the Minneapolis-St. Paul commercial air service market. Some claim that Northwest uses its market position to inflate airfares. As of January 2005 this project is still in the planning phase.

The 1970 disaster movie Airport was partially filmed at MSP, filling in for a fictional Chicago airport. It was followed by several sequels and was a prototype for many disaster movies that followed. The airport used colors as the method for naming different concourses for many years, a convention that was duplicated in the movie. Today, MSP uses lettered concourses, which has become standard practice at airports around the world.

Lindbergh Terminal

Concourse A

Concourse B

Concourse C

Concourse D

Concourse E

Concourse F

Concourse G

Humphrey Terminal

Concourse H

Runways

MSP Airport has four runways:

  • Runway 4/22 – 11,000 feet (3,354 m)
  • Runway 12R/30L – 10,000 ft (3,048 m)
  • Runway 12L/30R – 8,200 ft (2,499 m)
  • Runway 17/35 – 8,000 feet (2,438 m), set to open in October 2005

A number of buildings (including hangars) were demolished to make way for the runway protection zone of the new 17/35 landing strip, and plans for expansion at the Mall of America have been hampered. However, it is expected to increase capacity at the airport by 25%.

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