Mar 21, 2022 - News

Inflation could reroute Des Moines airport plan

Illustration of an origami airplane/rocket made from paper money.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A $576 million terminal expansion at the Des Moines International Airport might be segmented over a longer period due to inflation, airport director Kevin Foley told Axios last week.

Why it matters: Staggering construction could drive debt and increase the overall costs.

  • Yes, but: That option may be necessary to make the financing work, Foley said.

Catch up fast: The existing terminal building is about 75 years old with space limitations that make adding new airlines or routes challenging, according to recent studies conducted for the airport authority.

  • Expansion is a necessary to boost central Iowa's economic development and to maintain competitive ticket pricing, Foley said.

Under the current plans, an 18-gate terminal would be constructed on the east side of the airport, more than doubling the current 12.

  • Construction would begin in 2024 and take about two years to complete.

The big picture: The construction industry is experiencing an exceptionally steep rise in costs for materials that's compounded by supply chain disruptions, according to a September report from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

  • Input costs — material, labor or other overhead items — increased almost 30% between April of 2020 and August of 2021, per the AGC.

Zoom in: The hurt is already in play with some local projects seeing a more than 30% rise in costs.

  • The second and third phases of the Cowles Drive entrance project slated to begin this spring at the airport are $900,000 above the engineer's $12 million estimate, Foley noted.

What's next: Airport officials are considering other timeline options for the terminal project.

  • A presentation to the Airport Authority Board is tentatively scheduled for an April 5 workshop, Foley said.

Of note: Downsizing the project is unlikely due to the airport's long-term needs, Foley said.

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