Ramstein AB, Germany (Jan. 30, 2002) - The ceremonial opening of Ramstein's new passenger terminal Jan. 30 signified the base's continued transformation to becoming the airlift hub of the European theater.
The new passenger terminal is truly a monument to the transition of Ramstein from a fighter base in the 1950's to Europe's central strategic airlift hub, said Brig. Gen. Mark A. Volcheff, 86th Airlift Wing commander and host of the ceremony.
"It also marks the beginning of the transition of the closure of Rhein-Main Air Base (in 2005) and the replication of the capabilities to support strategic airlift at Ramstein," he said.
The facility will stand as a marker of cooperation between many people, many organizations and many countries, the general said. "It will send our soldiers and our airmen to their missions, provide comfort for visitors, and welcome home our dedicated service men and women."
It took tremendous team effort and partnering between U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Air Mobility Command and 86th Airlift Wing members, as well as the German design and construction companies to complete this facility, Volcheff explained.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11:30 a.m. highlighted the joint venture to get this $13 million state-of-the-art facility constructed.
Also taking part in the ribbon-cutting were representatives from three host nation agencies, who expressed best wishes for a safe and profitable operation of the passenger terminal. They said not only the award-winning architectural design is exemplary, but the efficiency must be praised as well; the new passenger terminal gives Ramstein a unique identifier.
The 57,000 square-foot terminal, which has been under construction for more than three years, is three times the size of Ramstein's current terminal. It is expected to be operational in early to mid-March, when a long-term parking area is completed.
Currently, there are only a limited number of short-term parking spots and "we don't want our customers being upset before they enter the building, because they don't have a place to park," said Col. Dave Smith, 723rd Air Mobility Squadron commander.
"The new passenger terminal is a vast improvement to what we have now," Smith continued. "It gives us a much better, easier and quicker means to serve our customers. It's a tremendous facility for what we're doing right now."
The new terminal will continue to serve the current number of passengers, which averages about 11,000 people a month, until 2005/2006 when the Rhein-Main mission transfers here. Smith said they expect to have about 35,000 passengers a month at that time.
To handle the increased passenger load, an annex will be added to the new terminal; construction is expected to begin in spring 2003.