City continues to expand airport terminals, increase passenger capacity

Rachel Freeman

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport looks ahead to begin its final improvement project to expand their terminal and increase traveler capacity. 

The airport has completed the first three stages of its renovations and is set to begin work on its final project, the Terminal/Apron Expansion & Improvements Project. Construction has yet to start on the expansion but the project is estimated to finish by 2019, according to Austin-Bergstrom representative Jim Halbrook.

“Currently the terminal we have has a capacity to serve 11 million travelers a year,” Halbrook said. “But we have seen increases in the number of travelers, this year up ten percent. We need to expand the terminal to be able to accommodate those additional passengers. After the 70,000 square foot expansion the terminal will be able to serve 15 million passengers.”

The expansion of the terminal follows the airport’s master plans from 2003 and 2008. The project in total will cost $240 million for a 23 percent increase in space available and 27 percent increase in passengers served. 

Biology freshman Lavender Hackman said the construction might be a deterrent for people choosing to fly to Austin or not.

“To have construction going on will likely make people even more frustrated until it’s done,” Hackman said. “We could lose a lot of money with people avoiding the airport for four years. I’m already annoyed and I don’t even plan to use the airport.”

Hackman also said she was unsure if this expansion is the best use of city funding. 

“This is not a good allocation of funding,” Hackman said. “Have you seen all the homeless people on the drag? Give it to them.”

Exercise science freshman Jacob Vines said he thinks the improvements will be frustrating but ultimately help the city long term.

“If I were to go to the airport during construction it would be more frustrating than good,” Vines said. “But once it finishes it should be worth it in the long run if it’s done properly. If people are just patient and don’t get aggravated it will work out. Austin is growing and has been consistently. Austin getting a bigger airport would help the city and make more people be able to directly fly here when they move here.”

Recently completed projects include the Terminal Addition: Terminal East Infill Project, completed in July; Taxiway A Completion, completed in July; and CONRAC – Consolidated Rental Car Facility, More Customer Parking, completed Oct. 1.