Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport is getting ready to say goodbye to Terminal 2. Starting on Feb. 2, all the airlines in Terminal 2 will begin to relocate to Terminal 3.
Boutique Airlines will move Feb. 3. United is set to move on Feb. 4. Alaska and Contour Airlines will make the move on Feb. 5. Once the airlines have relocated to Terminal 3, Terminal 2 will shut down permanently.
Back in November 2018, the Phoenix City Council approved plans to demolish Terminal 2, which opened back in 1962. It is the airport’s smallest and oldest terminal.
Airport officials explained the multimillion-dollar demolition was necessary due to the fact that Terminal 2 is outdated and too small to accommodate bigger planes and more passengers. They also said it would be more expensive to remodel the terminal rather than tear it down.
“Terminal 2 was state-of-the-art in 1962 when it opened and it really did serve Phoenix well for decades, but it wasn’t built for the aircraft and passengers of today,” said Julie Rodriguez, Phoenix Sky Harbor spokeswoman at the time.
The airport waited to close Terminal 2 until the renovations were complete at Terminal 3. The airport spent close to $6 million to modernize and revamp Terminal 3.
After the ribbon cutting in January 2019, passengers got to check out the brand-new concourse which features more room, new shops, and a wide variety of restaurants
The refreshed terminal is now known as the John S. McCain III Terminal 3, named after Arizona’s late senator. Cindy McCain attended the terminal’s grand opening. “My husband was so excited to know that he was going to be part of not only the aviation history of Arizona, but such an important part of it,” said McCain. “It’s very bittersweet, obviously, I wish he were here. He would have loved this more than anything.”
Some passengers are excited about the move. Many stated that they’re looking forward to a wider variety of dining and shopping choices.
Others say they will miss Terminal 2’s convenience. Kamal Sodhi, whose mother just flew in from Canada said she likes Terminal 2 for its ease and accessibility. “It’s convenient. You can park across the street. It’s smaller,” she says. “Bigger is not always better. Newer is not always better.”
Another traveler, Richard Davis, agreed. “Smaller, more convenient,” he says. “It’s pretty accessible, really. It’s perfect.”
One piece of history that won’t get demolished in Terminal 2 is the iconic Phoenix mural, which made its debut in 1962. The artwork will be housed in the Rental Car Center by 2021. It’s in three sections and pays tribute to Phoenix’s past, present and future. The first section shows the railroad. The middle section’s focus is of the mythical Phoenix bird. The last section is the artist’s interpretation of what the future of technology would look like.
Gary Martelli, the airport museum curator, explained that the 16-foot-by-75-foot mural is made up of 52 different materials including gemstones, sand from different counties across the state and mosaic glass. Artist Paul Coze created the mural.
“I’ve always been impressed by the construction of it,” said Martelli. He explained it was important for the airport to make sure it didn’t get destroyed in the demolition plans. “We knew it was very beloved by the citizens of Phoenix and we received many many phone calls and letters from the general public asking about what’s going to happen to the Phoenix mural,” he said.
Moving the mural will be no small feat. The structure consists of three 25-foot-wide by 16-foot-high panels and includes 52 different materials. Before the artwork can be safely moved, it must be protected and stabilized. A rigid, lightweight, truss-like structure known as a space frame will be mounted on the back of each of the three mural panels. This will reinforce the artwork allowing for transportation and installation in its new home at Sky Harbor’s Rental Car Center.
The airport is planning a farewell event for Terminal 2 on Tuesday, Feb. 4. from 4-8:30 p.m. The free event will give the public an opportunity to visit the terminal one last time before it closes. Attendees can drop in any time during the event to see the terminal as well as learn more about its history through a special exhibition from the Phoenix Airport Museum. Visitors will also be able to watch the last-ever flights depart from the terminal.
Here is more information on the free event: