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Additional concourse boosts airport rebuild price tag to $2.6 billion

Published: 05/02/2016
By Jasen Lee, Deseret News — SALT LAKE CITY — Redevelopment of Utah's largest airport is getting even more expansive.

Salt Lake City International Airport officials Monday announced plans to build a $740 million concourse north of the existing terminal to accommodate projected growth in passenger traffic and to replace aging facilities built in the 1960s.

The new North Concourse will add 30 gates in two phases. Construction is just getting underway on the South Concourse, which was part of the airport's original Terminal Redevelopment Program.

The addition of the North Concourse will effectively boost the total cost of the project from $1.8 billion to $2.6 billion. Funding for the new concourse will come from cash on hand and financial support from the airlines, as well as general airport revenue bonds, airport spokeswoman Nancy Volmer said.

No taxpayer money is being used for the redevelopment project, she said.

Currently, the airport serves more than 22 million passengers annually, which is more than double the facility's initial 10 million passenger design capacity, Volmer said. Passenger traffic is expected to grow about 1.6 percent annually in the coming years, she said.

“We’ve studied the alternatives to accommodate passenger growth at Salt Lake City International Airport,” said Maureen Riley, executive director of the Salt Lake City Department of Airports. “Building the North Concourse sooner rather than later is the best solution for the future.”

Riley said the airport will continue to work with the airlines and the community to deliver a well-managed project that meets the highest of expectations.

The department received unanimous support from all airlines serving the airport to build the new North Concourse, Volmer said.

The North Concourse will replace existing gates on concourses B, C and D, which Volmer said have major deficiencies that would require costly renovations to continue maintaining. In addition, renovations to those concourses would significantly disrupt airline operations and require multiple relocations by each airline to accommodate the necessary upgrades, she said.

“Every step our airport takes in the redevelopment effort is an exciting one,” said Salt Lake City Council Chairman James Rogers. “The end goal is an airport that better serves customers and is an even bigger economic driver for growing the northwest quadrant of our city and all of the Utah economy.”

Volmer said the first phase of the North Concourse construction will start on the west portion of the building and is scheduled to be completed in 2020, in conjunction with the opening of the South Concourse and the new terminal. A flexible gate layout is planned to serve a mix of aircraft sizes, though the concourse will primarily be used for narrow-body and small, wide-body aircraft, she added.

The new North Concourse layout also allows for an additional 15 gates to be added to the east for a total of 45 gates, if needed in the future, Volmer noted.

Plans call for the North Concourse to provide modern operating facilities for all airlines, which Volmer said will improve passenger service. A passenger tunnel will be constructed to connect the North Concourse to the South Concourse and the new terminal, she added.

“Aligned with our other resources, the airport is a key economic driver for our city and state,” Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski said. “This addition is essential in building a state-of-the-art facility to help attract more business and tourism dollars, and completely in line with my plan for robust economic development. We are on track to making the entire experience more efficient and pleasant for everyone.”

Meanwhile, the airport on Thursday will welcome a new direct flight from the Netherlands. KLM will enter the Salt Lake market with a nonstop flight from Amsterdam, Volmer said. It will be the airport's fourth direct overseas flight, joining Delta's nonstop service to Amsterdam, London and Paris.