The rotunda area on the second floor of the new terminal building under construction at the Lafayette Regional Airport will offer a scenic view of the air traffic at the airport when it’s scheduled to open next year.

But you’ll notice the windows are different.

It’s SageGlass, an electronically tintable glass that tints or clears on demand depending on the conditions. It dims to control the heat and glare for customers inside. It will give customers dining at the nearby restaurant a more comfortable experience but also to simply allow users to do things like read a menu.

It might be only application of SageGlass at a Louisiana, LFT director Steve Picou said.

“We got the idea from Dallas-Fort Worth (airport),” he said. “If you’re walking through there, most of the time you’re looking at a concessionaire where they don’t have the SageGlass, you strain because the glare is so bad. Once they did that, their sales at those places that have SageGlass spiked because people could read the menu.”

That area may be the most attractive spot in the terminal, which remains on schedule to open in September 2021. Picou led a media tour of the building on Thursday, right now work remains on schedule for the $90 million project that will replace the smaller current terminal.

The new terminal will be 12,000, doubling the current 6,000 square-foot, and have room for expansion. With its wider walkways and security checkpoint area that will quadruple the size at the current terminal, visitors will notice the difference immediately.

And that security checkpoint? There were will be two lines with room for a third one.

“The biggest thing you’ll notice is the space,” Picou said. “It’s an open concept. There’s higher ceilings. You’re not going to have lower ceilings. The building has the ability for expansion, whereas the current terminal is very limited on expansion. That’s why the (airport) commission elected to build a new terminal.”

Other points of note:

  • The 9,000-square-foot restaurant space will be just off the rotunda. Oakwells, which operates the Acadiana Tap Room restaurant in the current terminal, will move into the space. It’s beyond the security checkpoint, but you won’t need to be a passenger to dine there, Picou said. Customers will still have to pass through security.
  • Spaces offering drinks and sundry items will be located on both sides of the security checkpoint.
  • The wall along walkway for arriving passengers next to the security checkpoint will feature a mural of the Atchafalaya Basin.
  • The terminal will have five gates, one more than the current terminal. Delta will be at the first one, United Airlines will have the next two and American will be at the fourth. The fifth will remain vacant until the current terminal is demolished.
  • The second floor will house Picou’s office and other airport staff. Currently their offices are off site.

Passenger traffic is gradually returning at LFT, Picou noted, after the COVID-19 shutdown but still has a ways to go. Last year was a banner year for the airport with over 260,000 enplanements and deplanements, and January and February traffic counts were high.

Then traffic all but halted, with under 2,000 enplanements and deplanements in April. In July those totals topped 8,000.

On Thursday American Airlines announced it will pull out of 15 regional markets, including Lake Charles.

“We’re about 40% of where we were last year,” Picou said. “That’s a lot better than, say, March or April when we had very little flight activity. All the airlines have increased their flights, and we’re looking for them to increase once COVID kind of gets under control. We’re optimistic things are going to be turning around.”

Acadiana Business Today: The most interesting feature of the new Lafayette airport terminal? It may be the SageGlass

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