Officials unveiled a $214 million, four-year plan to modernize Memphis International Airport Thursday morning, an update to an original $114 million plan introduced in 2014.
The new plan carries most of the hallmarks of the original plan, including consolidating most passenger operations to the B concourse, raising its ceilings, bringing in more natural light, and more. However, the new plan also includes related projects like building a new jet bridge and electrical upgrades on the A and C concourses for more airline operations.
“This is a lengthy, complex process, and it’s crucial that we do it right in order to deliver the best possible airport experience for Memphis travelers,” said Pace Cooper, chairman of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority board of commissioners. “We’ve made progress thus far, and more significant changes are on the horizon. These changes are all part of a project that will result in a modern, convenient, state-of-the-art airport for our passengers, airlines, concessionaires and other partners.”
No local tax dollars will be used for the project, airport officials said, noting that the Airport Authority receives no local tax revenue. The Airport Authority will take on debt (by issuing bonds) to fund most of the project. Federal and state grants will also help fund the project. Other funds will come from regular fees paid by airlines and other airport tenants.
The original plan called for renovating and adding on to the B concourse. The new plan expands on that idea calling for the concourse to be completely redesigned, rebuilt, and expanded with additional passenger amenities. B concourse will be closed during this construction phase. Airlines and other tenants will be moved to the A and C concourses during that time.
The original plan called for the complete removal of the south ends of the A and C concourses. The south end of A was removed in 2015. The south end of C remains and will remain until construction on the B concourse is complete.
Officials said construction will begin in early 2018. Delta Airlines and Allegiant will begin to move out of B concourse later this year. The new concourse will open in early 2021 and consolidation will be complete and the south end of the C concourse will be demolished later that year.
Here is what you can expect in the updated B concourse:
• Higher ceilings
• Increased natural light
• Wider corridors and larger gate areas
• Additional seating
• Additional moving walkways
• Additional amenities such as additional charging stations in gate areas
• Children’s play area
• Designed to modern seismic standards
• Stage for live music in the Rotunda area
• Additional lounge areas
Here’s what will happen after B concourse is open:
• Airlines will relocate to the B concourse. Commuter airlines will operate from a new ground boarding area on the A concourse.
• Concessions in the A and C concourses will be moved to B, giving them greater exposure to concentrated numbers of passengers.
• The new B concourse will feature new and enhanced retail and food options.
• Ticketing/check-in will continue in the A, B and C terminals.
• Baggage claim for all airlines will be consolidated into the B baggage claim area, though the A and C baggage claim areas will remain open for passenger entrance and exit.
• Security screening is not anticipated to change and will primarily be consolidated to B, although a second security checkpoint at C will also be available for periods of heavy traffic.
Here’s what has happened at the airport since the original modernization plan was announced in 2014:
• Continued work between Airport Authority, design team and airline partners to refine design plans
• Southwest and American ticketing counters were moved to the B terminal
• New outbound baggage belt system installed in west half of the B ticketing lobby
• The south end of the A concourse was removed
• Neely’s Interstate BBQ moved to the C concourse
• TSA operations and office areas relocated from A concourse to B concourse
• The airport has applied for and received National Environmental Protection Act approval from the Federal Aviation Administration on this project
• Added airport-wide consolidated flight information systems and digital displays