Orlando International Airport, Florida's busiest, is located approximately six miles southeast of downtown Orlando. Serving in excess of 35 million passengers per year, Orlando International ranks as the country's 10th busiest airport and the 20th busiest in the world.
Orlando International Airport sits on the land that was once home to McCoy Air Force Base, a Strategic Air Command installation. McCoy Air Base opened in 1940 and was deactivated in 1975. Renamed Orlando-McCoy Jetport and then Orlando International Airport, the site was redeveloped in order to accommodate the growing number of visitors heading to Orlando after the 1971 opening of Walt Disney World. The airport still uses the call letters MCO, an abbreviation of its original name.
Orlando International consists of one main terminal building and four airside terminals, linked together by an elevated tram system. Passengers head to the main terminal for check-in. Airside 1 and 4 currently handle international arrivals while Airside 2 and 3 are reserved for domestic travel. International airlines that fly to Orlando include Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, Aer Lingus, Air Canada, Aeromexico, Lufthansa, and several smaller carriers.
The Orlando Airport is a secondary hub for AirTran Airways and is the home of the company's corporate headquarters and operations center. The airport is also a focus city for both Southwest and JetBlue Airlines, with Southwest being the location's busiest and largest carrier, accommodating approximately 20 percent of Orlando International's traffic. Other domestic carriers number more than a dozen and include most major carriers.
Airsides 1 and 3 are the oldest in the airport, built in the early 1980s, and are currently undergoing renovations that are expected to be complete in 2010. A plan for a fifth terminal was put on hold when the numbers of individuals traveling to Orlando by air decreased after the World Trade Center attacks in 2001.
Seven automobile rental companies are located onsite at Orlando International Airport and several others are reached by shuttle from the Ground Transportation level. This airport is home to the largest rental car market in the world, largely due to the presence of Walt Disney World, one of the world's top 10 vacation destinations.
There are several options for parking around Orlando Airport including a satellite lot, terminal garage parking, and valet parking. In 2006, this was one of the first airports to build a designated cell phone lot, prompted by strict security measures, providing a short-term parking area for passenger pick-up. This eliminated the need for circling the airport until passengers appeared for pick-up outside baggage claim.
A Hyatt Regency Hotel is conveniently located at Orlando International Airport and includes 446 rooms and 38,000 feet of office space. In addition, the airport has an extensive food court area and nearly three dozen shops.