Airport director presents $2.5 billion vision for San Antonio International –

SAN ANTONIO — A new, $2.5 billion vision for San Antonio International airport includes an additional terminal, longer runways designed for international travel, and revamped feeder roads to the hub. 
The proposed 20-year strategic plan impressed city council members Wednesday. The full council could sign off on the ideas next week, clearing the way for San Antonio airport executives to apply for federal dollars that’d cover the projects’ cost. 
The proposals will not require local tax dollars or money from the city’s budget, airport director Jesus Saenz said. Federal Aviation Authority grants, private investment, existing passenger fees, and the newly-approved federal infrastructure bill should foot the bill. 
“This is probably one of the most – if not the most – important capital investments this community will ever make with regard to the trajectory of our economy,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. “This is no longer an aspirational goal. You have laid out an achievable plan to get us to a competitive international airport now.” 
The proposal’s crown jewel is a new terminal, to be completed by 2030. It would include three international gates and cost as much as $840 million. 
The additional square footage would allow the airport to let more retail space to bars, shops, and restaurants. 
Existing terminal ‘A’ would be gutted by 2035 and remodeled. The airport would also relocate its air traffic control tower to clear space for a new parking garage. 
The city aims to expand SAT”s longest runway to 10,000 feet, allowing larger planes to take off for Europe and southeastern Asia.
Workers will realign roads that feed into the airport, creating separate ingress and egress points. Existing traffic lights and intersections would be removed so drivers do not need to stop as they enter or exit the facility. 
By 2040, San Antonio International Airport would feature a single entrance. Once fliers passed through security, they could move freely from concourse to concourse. 
Airport analysts expect a 50 percent increase in passengers over the next 20 years. The city is already adding three gates to increase capacity by 13 percent. 
Some other work is already underway, including modest improvements to baggage claim systems and terminal concession facilities. 
City leaders were adamant Wednesday that renovating the airport will not immediately prompt airlines to add direct flights from San Antonio. 
Instead, they hope an improved airport would lure more passengers. Then, airlines might add additional direct flights to meet demand. 
“It is not ‘Build it and they will come,'” two airport executives and a council member said, pleading with the business community to put more employees on planes out of San Antonio. 
During the meeting, council members lamented  AT&T’s 2008 departure from San Antonio. The telecommunications giant moved its headquarters to Dallas, largely because metroplex airports offer scores of direct flights that SAT does not. 
By 2022, Austin-Bergstrom (AUS) airport will offer 94 direct flights compared to SAT’s 43.
“I’m sick of losing business to other cities with better airports, but not with better workforces or environments,” councilman Manny Pelaez said. 
The full council could approve the plan as soon as Nov. 18. 
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