MYRTLE BEACH S.C. (WBTW) — Myrtle Beach International Airport’s new terminal enhancement project is underway as officials design what the new enhancements will look like in Phase 1.

The overall goal of the project is to increase terminal capacity, improve efficiency and enhance the customer experience, a spokesman said.

The airport may not be busy now, but during the summer it will be, and the general consensus among travelers is that coming through the airport is a breeze compared with ones in New York.

“I’m sure a lot of people come here,” traveler Ellen Arias said. “I’m sure it’s going to be very, very crowded, and there could be a need for that expansion. It’s good for tourists and Myrtle Beach.”

To better accommodate the approximate 40 percent increase in passenger volume since before the pandemic, as reported by the TSA, the airport spokesperson said airport officials are planning a five- to six-gate expansion off the end of the concourse, more food options, security checkpoint improvements, more parking and an additional 100,000 gallons in fuel capacity.

“There’s so much demand, and we expect quite a bit of future demand for air travel in and out of Myrtle Beach, not just from tourism, but also our local community is growing, airport spokesman Ryan Betcher said. “So we’re just trying to meet the needs of what our community needs at this point and time, but also future needs.”

Betcher said the project primarily is being funded through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passenger facility charges, Horry County Department of Airports cash reserves and potentially bond financing.

“We have a common use system that allows us to be able to put any air carrier on any gate, which is something that’s kind of ahead of the industry and allows us to get as much gate utilization as possible,” Betcher said. “But even with those types of systems in place, we find that we need additional gates, additional capacity in our terminal facility.”

There’s also a separate rental-car canopy project happening now. The canopies were requested by both travelers and rental-car companies. They will provide not only shade from the sun but also protect vehicles and passengers from inclement weather.

“We have a lot of rental-car transactions that occur at the airport because we have so many visitors to our area,” Betcher said. “So this is another improvement that we can make for our rental car customers.”

This canopy project is funded through the customers’ contract rental fees that are charged when someone rents a vehicle.

We reached out to the airport about how much the project cost, but they have not yet gotten back to us.

The spokesperson said that while airport officials are still in the designing aspect of the terminal project, travelers may see some construction on the parking lots, in the fuel-storage capacity and around security checkpoints within the next year.