ST. LOUIS ( -- Lambert St. Louis International Airport is in the process of preparing the space for up to four new gates in the D concourse, as demand at the airport continues to increase.The airport announced Thursday that passenger traffic rose 10 percent in 2016, topping out at 14 million passengers, it's biggest year since 2008.

Southwest Airlines led the growth in new flights and new markets with a peak of 103 daily departures and 43 non-stop destinations this year. It finished 2016 with a four percent growth in market share to 55 percent of enplanements.

As a result, and an optimistic view of potential future expansion, Lambert is preparing the space so four more gates in the D concourse can open. The D Concourse connects Terminal 2 to the Terminal 1, and in the past, has been used for international flights.

Lambert officials say that while there is no guarantee four additional gates will be needed immediately, they are preparing for expected demand. In 2016 Southwest opened two additional gates in the D Concourse.

Inside Concourse D on Thursday, crews were hard at work. The maroon carpet installed when TWA was hubbed at the airport will be torn out and replaced with tile. Bathrooms, restaurants and shops will be renovated or built and a set of moving walkways brought back to life. The airport says the remodeling will be complete by June, when Southwest Airlines traffic is expected to increase.

The airport is in communication with Southwest about the new gate space and although an agreement has not been reached, the airport expects the space will be needed.

As for the cost of the renovations, the bill is estimated to reach about $700,000. Southwest continues to push for international flights, and with an uptick of more than one million travelers coupled with new, exciting renovations, those flights may soon be a reality.

Copyright 2017 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

Recommended for you