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New gates promise more competition at MSP airport

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Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport will get a little bigger on Thursday. Terminal 2 is officially opening four new gates, expanding the former charter terminal to 14 departure and arrival points.

The moves bring more space for competition, said airport spokesperson Pat Hogan, who noted that Sun Country Airlines is buying two additional aircraft later this year that will be in service at the airport while Southwest Airlines continues to add routes to the Twin Cities. 

The airport continues to pursue Jet Blue and officials remain hopeful that airline will start service in the next couple years, he added.

The $28 million project wasn't without controversy. The Metropolitan Airports Commission green lighted the project last year amidst labor strife between Sun Country and its pilots, including threats by Sun Country that it might shut down. But the two sides have since reached a contract agreement.

The gate expansion is the latest evidence of the development surge at the airport. The main terminal has 114 gates, and overall passenger traffic has been approaching an all-time annual record, set more than a decade ago. 

The airport is also building out a first wave of restaurant and shop changes in the main terminal, preparing for a major makeover that will expand the front of the lobby and preparing to add a hotel in mid-2018 near the parking ramps at Terminal 1.