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$100m upgrade for Logan’s international terminal

Pubin Liang (left), Managing Director of Haiman Airlines, North America; Pedro Heilbron, CEO of Copa Airlines; and TomGlynn, CEO of MassPort, at a Chamber of Commerce forum on Tuesday.

KAYANA SZYMCZAK FOR THE GLOBE

Pubin Liang (left), Managing Director of Haiman Airlines, North America; Pedro Heilbron, CEO of Copa Airlines; and TomGlynn, CEO of MassPort, at a Chamber of Commerce forum on Tuesday.

The Massachusetts Port Authority will undertake a $100 million renovation of Terminal E, Logan Airport’s international terminal, as new global destinations and a steady rise in international travel help boost the local economy.

The renovations, announced Tuesday by Governor Deval Patrick, include a new connection between Terminal C and E behind security, new self-serve kiosks to process arriving passengers’ passports at Customs, and upgrades to concessions and gate areas. The project is expected to be completed in two years.

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“Massachusetts is opening up,” Patrick said at a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce breakfast. “Looking out, not just in, and that is helping grow jobs and opportunity for everybody.”

Airlines have added a flurry of international nonstops out of Boston in recent years. Logan has service to 36 foreign cities, up from 26 a decade ago, and three new foreign carriers are coming onboard this year: Emirates, starting service to Dubai on Monday; Turkish Airlines, launching a flight to Istanbul in May; and Hainan Airlines, kicking off a Beijing route in June.

Massport is in talks to bring in a Tel Aviv flight on El Al Israel Airlines, said Thomas Glynn, chief executive of Massport. A Milan route is also on the list.

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“We want to keep adding new choices for travelers to Boston,” Glynn told the Chamber gathering. “We have a lot of momentum, but we have to make sure . . . that the flights we’ve already put in place are successful and the other airlines see Boston as a destination they want to build from.”

International travel is the fastest-growing segment at Logan, up 20 percent in the past decade, in part due to the new routes. Japanese visitors to Massachusetts increased 43 percent in the first year of Japan Airlines’ Boston-Tokyo flight.

Last year, 4.5 million international travelers passed through the airport, and international departures are expected to rise 7.5 percent by November.

The introduction of the Boeing 787 aircraft, a fuel-efficient plane that makes it economical for carriers to fly long-haul routes out of midsize markets such as Boston, has helped attract carriers to Logan. Hainan, which has only two other US routes, to Seattle and Chicago, anticipates that the many small and medium-sized corporations in the Boston area will soon do more business in China. China was Massachusetts’ second-largest export market in 2013, behind Canada, according to Wisertrade.org, which tracks international trade.

“We see the potential in Boston,” said Pubin Liang, managing director for Hainan in North America, who also spoke at Tuesday’s Chamber forum.

Another important international sector: students. More than 46,000 foreign students are attending Massachusetts colleges and universities this year, a 13 percent increase over last year, according to the state.

International visitors spent $2.3 billion in Massachusetts last year, according to the state, and that number is expected to keep rising.

Chinese international tourists, for example, have been growing by nearly 20 percent a year, and the country is expected to generate 100 million international tourists a year by 2015, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

As Patrick put it: “100 million new international travelers. Come on down.”

Katie Johnston can be reached at kjohnston@globe.com.
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