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Published: 3/24/2005

Airports expect rise in holiday travelers

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Officials at Toledo Express and Detroit Metro airports are expecting heavy traffic this weekend as the Easter holiday and scholastic spring breaks generate volumes of vacationers.

While Detroit Metropolitan-Wayne County Airport issued a statement yesterday advising travelers to "give themselves plenty of extra time to get in and out," Paul Toth, the airport director at Toledo, said he expects the local facility to handle the extra business without difficulty.

"I don't see any need for anybody to come out more than an hour before their flights," Mr. Toth said yesterday.

Seats on Trans Meridian Airlines' wide body flights to Florida are sold out for the next week, the airport director said, and many flights on other airlines are full or close to it.

But with both security screening lines in operation and all baggage inspection being done in a secured area behind the check-in counters, the extra volume should not result in extra delays, Mr. Toth said.

At Metro, officials announced that the Green economy parking lot will be opened temporarily to handle the holiday demand. The Green Lot, once one of Metro's principal economy lots, has been used only intermittently since the opening of the Detroit airport's McNamara Terminal and its parking garage.

"Some parking lots have been filling up on and off over the past month," said Lester Robinson, chief executive officer of the Wayne County Airport Authority.

Mike Conway, an airport spokesman, noted yesterday that 94 school systems in metropolitan Detroit are on break starting tomorrow and continuing through next week.

Northwest Airlines, which operates its busiest hub at Metro, expects its heaviest Good Friday business ever, he said.

"People travel when their children are out of school, especially with the current low fares," Mr. Conway said.

Programmable signs at airport entrances will advise arriving motorists of which parking lots are available at a given time, the airport statement said. Metro officials also urged those meeting arriving flights to park in short-term lots rather than try to wait at the terminal curb fronts, which is not allowed.

The Ohio Department of Transportation, meanwhile, noted that several construction projects have started across the state. Most notably in northwest Ohio, rehabilitation of the State Rt. 2 Edison Bridge over Sandusky Bay involves lane closings that may cause traffic delays this weekend.

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.



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