Even though the world is dealing with a pandemic and travel has been discouraged for months, Nov. 29, 2020, set a record for the number of people passing through United States airports during a single day that year. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported that approximately 1.2 million citizens flew that Sunday.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has identified 3,304 existing public-use airports and six proposed new airports that are expected to drive spending estimates to approximately $43.6 billion for projects that will be launched over the next few years. That’s an increase of $8.5 billion from the last estimate.
The Washington State Department of Transportation started a new trend when they designated Yakima Air Terminal as a beta test site for electric aircraft. Five other sites were designated as test sites, and 15 additional airports will form the initial network for electric aircraft. If projections are correct, electric and hybrid electric aircraft manufacturers may have up to 20 planes in service soon, with more than a dozen more in development. With some existing airport projects still underway, and some halted indefinitely, the below provides a look at the status of several states.
The San Antonio International Airport has benefited from 10 years of increases in passengers. Plans for a new terminal are now on hold but city leaders have indicated that improvements will not be halted long.
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport has its major expansion on hold, but that pause could be lifted at any time. Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport and the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport all have major expansion plans. In other parts of the state, the Abilene City Council is studying plans for expansion and modernization at the Abilene Regional Airport. Planning documents outline upcoming projects with costs of roughly $172 million for taxiway work, runway repair, new hangars and commercial development.
The operations committee at Northwest Arkansas National Airport put a hold on a number of planned projects, but work is expected to resume as soon as airline passenger counts return to pre-pandemic numbers. This work will include new elevators, escalators and a renovated building facade. The budget for upcoming projects is about $31.5 million.
The Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport is accepting public input on its 20-Year Master Plan 2020. Projects outlined in the plan include relocating and expanding the airport’s checkpoints, widening a terminal, expanding concessions and visitor areas and constructing a cargo building and maintenance hangar.
A boost of funding for the Winter Haven Regional Airport is anticipated. City officials want to attract private aviation and non-aviation companies to locate on airport property under long-term leases. The 520-acre airport property has three areas suitable for development. The existing master plan include an on-site hotel.
Recent activity at the Barkley Regional Airport included a ceremonial groundbreaking for a new $42 million passenger terminal. Design work should be completed early in 2021 with construction beginning immediately. The first phase of the project will focus on utility infrastructure and moving an automated weather station. A new access road will be built, and a new aircraft apron will be constructed.
Washington Regional Airport officials have plans for new hangars. An initial solicitation will be released soon for eight new hangars, but planning documents call for two to four more new hangars after that. The current schedule indicates that the city will accept bids for the first projects in 2021 and begin construction immediately afterwards.
Officials at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport have released a master plan study that outlines anticipated short- and long-term projects. Several options under consideration include salvaging as much of the existing terminal as possible, improving new and reused terminal areas and constructing a new concourse and terminal parallel to each other and connected by a tunnel.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation recently announced receipt of more than $6.6 million in state and federal funding for projects at five airports. Another $3.3 million in federal funds has also been designated for the construction of various
Airport expansion and rehabilitation projects will be abundant throughout the U.S. over the next decade. Decision-makers realize this infrastructure needs immediate attention and they do not want to jeopardize the country’s economic vitality with costly delays.