Austin's airport experiencing growing pains

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by QUITA CULPEPPER / KVUE News and photojournalist JOHN FISHER

kvue.com

Posted on July 16, 2013 at 5:55 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 17 at 7:38 AM

AUSTIN -- If you stop by Austin’s airport, you'll notice plenty of activity -- more than just passengers. The facility is undergoing some changes that will make things easier for those flying in and out and keep up with the city's growth.

Dede MacPherson and her family have never had a problem getting in and out of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

“This one's still a nice quick one to get through, not too many crowds,” MacPherson said. “From the first time I was here many years ago when at the original airport, it has grown.”

That growth is happening fast. Tuesday morning, the airport welcomed it's 11th air carrier.

Starting on Oct. 31, Allegiant Air will be operating flights from Austin to Las Vegas non-stop.

A record 9.4 million travelers went through the airport last year -- an estimated 30,000 per day.

“Austin is growing, and the airport is growing right along with it,” said airport spokesman Jim Halbrook.

There are more than 60 construction projects happening at ABIA right now, including everything from adding more parking to restroom renovations.

“We're renovating, for example, every restroom in this terminal. We're adding employee parking. We're building new roads. We're improving the curbside for better passenger flow,” Halbrook said.

Expect to see 11 new security lanes, doubling the amount ABIA has now.

“In the immediate future that will help alleviate some of the checkpoint congestion, and it also paves the way for a future terminal expansion as per our master plan which calls for six new gates to be built off the east end,” Halbrook said.

A new rental car facility means the top of the parking garage will be opened for public parking.

“We're going to get a total of about a thousand new spaces," said Halbrook.

While ABIA plans for the future, some passengers like it just the way it is.

“Not crowded at all. It's a lot cleaner than the airports in New York, seems a lot nicer,” said traveler Shaina Dicarmine.

“I don't think it needs to get bigger. I think it's perfect the way it is, to be honest.,” said traveler Rachel Robinson.

Of course, all the mentioned improvements will take a few years.

ABIA opened in 1999, and generates a $2.4 billion economic impact to the Austin area every year.

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