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(INDIANAPOLIS) – The Indianapolis International Airport has expansion on its mind as it gets ready to celebrate its 10th birthday.

The new airport, built at midfield on the property of the old airport, had one unexpected advantage from the beginning: the 9/11 attacks took place while the airport was still in the design phase. Architects were able to incorporate new security requirements into the design in ways that minimized inconvenience to passengers. That’s contributed to the airport’s string of awards by travel publications as the top airport in the U.S.

Executive director Mario Rodriguez says the airport will announce its ninth major airline by year’s end. He won’t say which one, but says it’s probably the most obvious domestic airline missing from Indy. The largest such airline is JetBlue, America’s seventh-largest carrier.

The airport hasn’t set any goals for adding new destinations. It scored a major coup with the addition of a Paris flight in May, the airport’s first nonstop transatlantic flight. And Rodriguez says the airport has been looking hard at adding business flights to Mexico City. But he says Indy’s 50 nonstop destinations now include all the obvious must-have U.S. destinations. He says it’ll add others as the opportunities arise, and notes the state has budgeted $20 millionto help attract more international flights.

And Rodriguez says the airport plans to maintain a focus on customer amenities. The airport plans to replace the seats in its waiting areas with more comfortable ones, and will increase the presence of Indiana-based restaurants among its food options. That’s been a focus from the beginning, with eateries including Shapiro’s and Harry and Izzy’s, but Rodriguez says it wasn’t clear 10 years ago what kind of market opportunity the airport would be. He says the airport will soon add some recognizable names.

Rodriguez says Indiana’s economic boom has helped drive the airport’s success, and vice versa. He says a pleasant experience on arrival puts visitors in a good frame of mind as they encounter the rest of the city.

(Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)