Significant changes designed to improve customer service are planned this year at the Springfield-Branson National Airport.

With yearly passenger numbers expected to soon reach 1 million, improvements include expanding and remodeling the restaurant in the gate area, adding charging stations and upgrading the free WiFi.

These are the first major improvements to the airline terminal since it opened in 2009. Approximate cost of the project is $750,000.

“These improvements are driven by passenger growth,” said Brian Weiler, airport director. “With several new routes and airlines going to larger jets, customers using the airport have grown 35 percent since 2011. We want our terminal amenities to keep up.”

Restaurant Improvements

Customer seating at the restaurant is in short supply on a regular basis, with wait lines often spilling into the concourse. The size of the restaurant will expand by over 50 percent to help with the overcrowding.

A bigger restaurant means a new and improved kitchen, making it possible to expand the menu. New menu items will include made-to-order breakfast and fresh gourmet hamburgers.

Restaurant remodeling begins in mid-January and should be done by spring. During the remodel, the restaurant will operate in temporary space with a limited menu.

Technology Improvements

The airport began offering free WiFi in 2003 and was one of the first airports in the country to do so.

“The upgrade should speed up connection speeds considerably,” said Kent Boyd, airport marketing director. “The last WiFi upgrade was five years ago and sometimes it struggles to keep up. It seems like every customer in the terminal has a wireless device, be it phone, tablet or computer.”

The airport currently has eight dedicated charging stations in the gate areas. That number will expand to 80. Most of the new charging stations will be at dedicated task tables.

“Making improvements like this are vital to the airport’s success,” said Weiler. “It’s part of an ongoing process of making sure our airport offers the best possible customer service."