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Austin Expanding for Airplanes…and Cars

When the world’s biggest racing event comes to town, the airport better be ready for it, which in the case of last weekend was Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Austin, Texas. The city
hosted the third edition of the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas speedway south of the airport. Austin’s airport felt the pressure to preform too with everything from increased charter to more cargo flights.

The airport saw everything from Emirates, Atlas Air, and Korean Air Cargo 747s delivering cars to multiple and rare charter aircraft. The crowd going through Austin’s terminal also stressed the airport with the airport seeing over 3,000 people fly though on Sunday, as well as another 20,000 on Monday.

Not just fans alone used the terminal as drivers and teams had to get to their chartered United and North American 767s to Sao Paulo. The airport would see lack of ramp space and departure delays becoming a problem throughout the two days after the race.

In response, The City of Austin has increased their effort to receive an airport terminal expansion. The current plan is calling for a $1.8 million addition to the 25 gate terminal by expanding the concourse on the east size to add an additional eight gates to the terminal. This would spread out the very tight west side heavy terminal to cope with race crowds for the United States Grand Prix weekend. This also is a look ahead as the airport has seen slow increases in commercial traffic over the last few years highlighted by the addition of British Airways.

However, the airport plans to expand apron space as well. The grass off of the terminal which separates the crossing taxiways with the main terminal apron will be paved over to make room for more private and commercial jet parking space. The airport will also remove the airport crew parking that is airside in favor of more apron space for jet parking and newer taxiways. The removal of the employee parking also allows for commercial jets to access runway 17L/35R without taxiing halfway around the terminal to do so. The apron space could be used for private jets on Formula One race weekend too. Last weekend was proof that Austin as an airport needs to expand and reform in order to keep their status as the host of the United States Grand Prix.

Ian McMurtry
Ian McMurtry
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