San Antonio snags $20 million for airport expansion
The project to remake San Antonio International Airport just got a $20 million lift, but it's less than half the amount officials wanted.
Driving the news: The city received a $20 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration that will help add capacity at the airport, city officials announced Monday.
Why it matters: The plan to expand the airport is the largest capital project the city has ever undertaken, city manager Erik Walsh has said. It's funded in part through revenue bonds, so more federal money means the airport will have less debt to pay off.
Details: The grant will go toward building a ground load facility in Terminal A. Such areas help passengers board and exit the plane more quickly from the tarmac, leading to lower airfares, per the San Antonio Report. The facility will include:
- Five new ground gates;
- A federal inspection station for international arrivals;
- Two levels of seating areas for passengers;
- Dedicated charging stations, workstations and a lactation room;
- Additional food and retail options.
State of play: Airport officials requested about $45 million in the grant application, which would have covered the full cost of the ground load facility, airport spokesperson Erin Rodriguez tells Axios.
Context: The grant comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law enacted in 2021. The city had to apply and compete for the funds.
What they're saying: "A ground load facility gives us the capacity to expand and accommodate more domestic and international flights — which can lead to more options for competitive fares for our passengers," airport director Jesus Saenz said in a statement.
- "We’ve said all along that the timing of our expansion is perfect because it coincides with the federal government’s historic investment in the nation’s airport infrastructure," Walsh said in a statement.
Flashback: Federal officials passed over San Antonio's funding request last year, the first in a five-year grant cycle, per the Express-News.
- Top city officials, including Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Walsh, have traveled to Washington multiple times to try to secure grants for the airport.
Zoom out: The ground load facility is just one piece of a $2.5 billion airport expansion plan. Officials revealed designs for the centerpiece — a new terminal — earlier this month.
What's next: Construction on the ground load facility could begin early next year and wrap up by March 2025.
- Initial construction work, such as on the foundation and utilities, could begin this summer.
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