Feb 15, 2024 - News

San Antonio grabs $30 million in federal funds for airport expansion

Illustration of an airplane tail design with a dollar bill sign on it.  

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new terminal at San Antonio International Airport is one step closer to reality thanks to millions in federal funding.

Why it matters: The ongoing airport expansion is the city's largest capital project ever. It's funded in part through revenue bonds, so more federal money means the airport will have less debt to pay off.

Details: SAT received $18 million from the Federal Aviation Administration to put toward the new terminal, federal officials announced Thursday. That money will also go toward environmental review and partial design for a new terminal connector that will link the airport's two existing terminals, per the FAA.

  • The airport received another $12 million in federal funding for electrical upgrades in Terminal A, bringing the total to $30 million, city officials said.
  • The grants come from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law enacted in 2021.

Catch up fast: San Antonio's airport is in the midst of a $2.5 billion expansion plan to add capacity and attract more nonstop flights.

  • A new terminal with up to 17 gates is the plan's centerpiece and most expensive line item.

Flashback: The city received another $20 million in federal funding for the airport expansion last year, to go toward a new ground load facility where passengers can board and exit from the tarmac. That money also came from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

What they're saying: "As we grow and expand our operations, these grants allow us to continue to modernize our airport and improve traveler experience," airport director Jesus Saenz said in a statement.

State of play: As the region's population has grown, SAT has only become more crowded — the airport recorded its busiest year ever in 2023, surpassing its pre-COVID travel record.

  • City and business leaders have long complained that San Antonio doesn't have the airport to match its profile as a booming city, holding back its economy.

What's next: Construction on the new terminal could begin next year, and it could open to travelers by 2028.

The bottom line: "The terminal expansion isn't just about upgrading infrastructure; it's about fueling our city's economic engine and bolstering our connectivity," city manager Erik Walsh said in a statement.


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