U.S. Airports Get Makeovers

Many U.S. airports are in need of significant overhauls, as terminals from the 60s and 70s can't keep up with current demand and expectations. Jad Mouawad explores the renovations and expansions transforming the nation's largest airports.

While airports in Asia and Europe get high marks for amenities and customer service, airports in the United States are being criticized for crumbling terminals, outdated amenities, and crowded areas. In light of these issues, many major American airports, such as Kennedy International, Los Angeles International, and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, are pouring billions of dollars into rebuilding terminals to accommodate higher traffic, airline mergers, and bigger planes, including the Airbus 380.

While public works projects throughout the country are stalled by political gridlock and budget crises, airport renovations "amount to some of the largest infrastructure projects in the country." As Mouawad explains, "Most airports in the United States are owned by cities or local authorities but are not dependent on taxpayer money to finance themselves and are, therefore, less affected by the current political mood to rein in spending. Instead, they typically finance investments through the revenue they generate, including airline fees, passenger charges and the sale of bonds tied to passenger traffic."

Jerry Orr, the chief executive of Charlotte Douglas International, noted, "Clearly, investment in aviation facilities has lagged the demand...But airports are businesses, and airports need the services that airlines provide."

Full Story: Airports Focus on the Ground

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Comments

Irvin Dawid's picture
Correspondent

Seaports as well as Airports getting makeovers

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on June 14 that "U.S. ports... plan to spend more than $46 billion over the next five years in anticipation of fierce global competition for exports and imports, a report by the American Association of Port Authorities shows......"

While an impetus for airport modernization is to "accommodate bigger airplanes, like the double-deck Airbus A380 which can seat about 500 passengers", a reason for seaport modernization will be to "handle the ever-larger cargo ships expected to traverse the Panama Canal en route to the East Coast by 2015." See Planetizen: Expansion on the Panama: A Boon for East Coast Ports?

Irvin Dawid, Palo Alto, CA

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