ABIA pushes improvements to accommodate more travelers, flights

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Month after month, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport officials say the airport has been breaking records with more passengers and more flights.

The Federal Aviation Administration is still reviewing the airport’s ambitious 20-year master plan that would see it double in size. But that waiting game hasn’t hampered airport officials’ plans. 

Last week,  Phase I of the new 9-gate expansion at the airport opened up. The $350 million project increased the airport’s overall capacity at the Barbara Jordan’s Terminal from 11 million to 15 million passengers per year.

Adding nine new gates to the terminal will increase the airport capacity to 34 gates in all. That will include four more international flight gates bringing the roster up to six. 

The terminal expansion project is nearly 175,000 square feet and includes:

  • 88,359 square feet of concourse space
  • 52,282 square feet of apron level space for baggage makeup conveyors, additional inbound baggage systems, airline operations space, airport support space, and other related ancillary facilities
  • 28,205 square feet of mezzanine and platform level space
  • 5,770 square feet of outdoor east terrace.
  • Expanding the paved aircraft area around the terminal by 48 acres to better accommodate larger and more aircraft

Passenger travel has tripled since the airport first opened in 1999. Last year, ABIA saw 15.8 million travelers, the highest ever numbers reported. If the trends continue, that number is expected to double to 30 million by 2040.

Airport officials say the $4 billion Master Plan will accommodate for that. One of the first things they want to do is build a new terminal and a new concourse.

Improvements would happen in phases. The master plan also includes improvements to State Highway 71.

Frank Cavallaro, who was visiting from Boston said he’s noticed the changes over the years, “I’ve been coming to Austin since the mid to early 1990s, now it’s exploded and the traffic is a lot worse.”

Officials say a new braided lane intersection design will provide free-flow traffic into and out of the airport to and from SH-71. This would eliminate stopped traffic from traffic signals and stop signs.

In the long-term, SH-71 is proposed to be relocated to the north to allow for future airport expansion. 

“We need it, we definitely need it,” said Austin resident Debra Pottorff who was traveling to San Diego said.

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