AUSTIN -- Amid the roar of airplane engines at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, you’ll hear the steady beep of construction. The airport is on a journey to bring more service to passengers.
More than six million people traveled through ABIA between January and August of this year. By the end of 2013, airport officials expect that number to hit nearly 10 million -- an increase of about six percent from 2012.
Nine new flights joined ABIA in 2013. Allegiant, Virgin America and Aeromar launched service to and from the airport. Starting in 2014, British Airways will also join.
“The current terminal will comfortably hold about 11 million passengers, and we want to stay ahead of this,” said ABIA spokesman Jim Halbrook.
Halbrook says growth has been steadily climbing since 2010.
“That's kind of a sign that we need to start looking at, you know, building out and being able to ease some of this,” said Halbrook.
Relief from overcrowding starts along the East terminal. There's a temporary security check point currently in service. The lanes open during the busy hours each day. It will be at full capacity next weekend when visitors fly in for the Grand Prix. Outside the terminal crews are building a 55,000-square-foot extension to directly connect the checkpoint with the gates.
“What this really reflects is the growth of Austin. We're building out here to try to keep up with Austin's current and future needs,” said Halbrook.
When the work is done, there will be 10 new screening lanes and a larger customs area.
“They really looked ahead,” said passenger Barry Baxley. “All of the Central Texas is growing, so it's very good, very positive that the city, that this airport is increasing.”
Construction around the parking garage is also underway. Parking spaces on the top floor are currently designated for rental cars. However, a new complex for rentals called CONRAC is going up. When the 1.6 million-square-foot parking complex opens, the 900 spaces along the top floor of the current parking garage will be freed for general parking. There are also several new lots under construction adding more than 1,800 spaces in all.
The work is expected to continue as traffic continues to climb. In September ABIA presented Austin City Council members with plans for the next round of growth. It includes another 70,000 square feet along the concourse with seven new gates.