U.S. airports will offer hundreds of collaboration opportunities in 2024

October 27, 2023

Airports nationwide either have major upgrades in progress, or such initiatives are being designed for a 2024 launch date. A significant decline in air travel related to pandemic restrictions has been dramatically reversed and recent studies now report that a majority of Americans have plans to fly somewhere in the next year. To meet the anticipated demand, the Federal Aviation Administration is providing funding support for critical projects. A total of $1 billion has been distributed in 2023 for airport improvements, including basic infrastructure upgrades, expanded facilities, equipment purchases, safety enhancements, new technology and other amenities.

Airports have long benefited from federal funding support for normal operations. With an abundance of funding for capital improvement projects, airports will be busy. In the last month alone, more than $300 million was awarded to support projects throughout the U.S.

The Salt Lake City International Airport will be expanded as part of an Airport Redevelopment Program. While phase 1 is complete and phases 2 and 3 are underway, a massive phase 4 is still waiting to launch. Projects with a cumulative cost projection of $683 million are still in the design phase. The Federal Aviation Administration has provided another $29 million to support this last development phase. One construction project will add a 300,000-square-foot concourse expansion. The new construction will include upgrades for all three levels of the concourse. The ground floor will have additional space for airport operations, storage and support services. The second level will be devoted primarily to passenger circulation and amenities. A total of 16 new gates and an additional 40,000 square feet of food and retail space will be added. Level 3 will provide dedicated public space, an outdoor deck for relaxation, and large electrical and telecommunications rooms. Also included will be utility upgrades, paving and repair work, and limited demolition services.

City officials are discussing plans to upgrade and expand Area 4 of the Barbara Jordan terminal at the Austin Bergstrom International Airport. The estimated cost for the planned expansions falls somewhere between $200 million to $375 million. The project is still in its planning phase, and a solicitation for the required design work is scheduled for 2024. Construction solicitations will follow as soon as the design is finalized. This effort will include reconfiguring and modernizing the terminal and redesigning the area where planes park to receive passengers and baggage. There will not be an increase in the number of gates, but ADA accessibility and security will be upgraded. A $14 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration will be consolidated with other funding.

Officials at the St. Louis Lambert International Airport will partner with airlines to fund a $331.6 million upgrading initiative. The projects that will be launched are part of a larger master plan that outlines approximately $3 billion in improvements. A new central utility plan is needed and the design phase for that effort will begin in 2024. Upgrades are also planned for the airport’s mechanical and electrical systems, water main pumps, air conditioning and power distribution systems. The design and construction of the utility plant has been tagged with a cost estimate of $175 million. Another project being designed currently will relocate the airfield’s maintenance campus. The current campus is in a flood-prone area and cannot be used to store modern airfield equipment. Relocating the campus will cost $85 million. The design of a new de-icing pad will start mid-2024 and that effort currently has a cost projection of $53.2 million.

The air traffic control tower at Tulsa International Airport in Oklahoma is nearing the end of its useful life and a replacement project is planned. A new control tower and terminal radar approach control facility will be constructed at approximately $102 million. The project received funding for the design phase and is slated for 2024. The new facility will meet current design and code standards, eliminate line-of-sight issues, provide space to accommodate all needed personnel in one place, and update all communication equipment.

Officials at the Presque Isle International Airport in Maine will oversee a project to replace the passenger terminal. The planned $30 million construction project will deliver a 22,000-square-foot, two-story structure. A construction solicitation is slated for release early in 2024 and construction is scheduled to begin in June. The security and bag checking areas will be expanded and a new fire alarm system will be installed. The current terminal lacks a fire FAA-compliant system, which will be addressed. Other upgrades will include constructing a new airport ramp, expanding the rental car space, and installing universal electric vehicle chargers. There are also plans to relocate the airport’s museum to the new building.

The Kahului Airport on the Island of Maui received a $22 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration that will be used to support a $62.3 million TSA security checkpoint project. A construction solicitation for the work is scheduled for release near the end of 2023. The new south checkpoint waiting lobby, screening lanes and TSA support spaces will be moved to the second floor of the new screening facility. The ground level will be designed to provide office spaces and tenant retail. A pedestrian bridge will connect the south checkpoint to a passenger hold room. This effort will significantly benefit the Kahului Airport, the second busiest airport in Hawaii.

Airport upgrade activities in 2024 will be significant and demand for experienced contractors will be high. Airline travel is not only getting back to normal, but it is projected to represent significant increases.

Mary Scott Nabers

Mary is President/CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI), a business development/public affairs firm that specializes in procurement consulting, market research, government affairs, knowledge transfer and public-private partnerships (P3s). Mary is also co-founder of the Gemini Global Group (G3), a firm that works with national and international clients on business development, P3s, and other types of government objectives.

A recognized expert regarding P3s, Mary is the author of Collaboration Nation – How Public-Private Ventures Are Revolutionizing the Business of Government and Inside the Infrastructure Revolution – A Roadmap for Rebuilding America.

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