BURLINGTON, Vt. – Some big changes are coming to Burlington International Airport. On Monday, Mayor Miro Weinberger and Sen. Patrick Leahy announced a $14.5 million project to expand the airport’s terminal building.
Over 26,000 feet of new space will be added to the terminal, including a second story expansion. The extra space will allow for the airport to add five additional TSA screening lanes.
In addition, the project will consolidate two existing security checkpoints into one, which is expected to improve the airport’s efficiency and, officials hope, travelers’ experience.
Sen. Leahy said the renovations will help build an airport infrastructure that can grow with the region, and leave passengers with a good first impression of Vermont.
“This is not only an economic asset for the city, but for the whole state, the entire region,” Sen. Leahy said. I think people are going to come to Vermont and say ‘wow, why can’t we do this in our state?”
Sen. Leahy was had been hoping to secure the $14.5 million grant for some time. It comes from the from the FAA Supplemental Airport Improvement Program. Lake Champlain Chamber President Cathy Davis and local business leaders explained the connection between a more streamlined airport experience and economic growth.
“If you can ‘wow’ them with a fantastic airport, they’re going to come again and again and again,” Davis said.
“To have a forward-leaning, thoughtful and progressive terminal that is fluid and efficient, and enjoyable to traverse through… It’s how people will initially kind of walk through our business as we try to recruit them and their families to come to Vermont,” said Kyle Clark, founder of BETA Technologies.
Gene Richards, Director of Aviation at Burlington International Airport, said the grant is critical because mid-size airports lack the cash flow of big-city hubs, but often have the same needs.
“It’ll be more efficient to use, more efficient for the number of people and police officers. It’s really a cost-saving instrument as well as a much-needed addition to the airport,” Richards said.
Some might wonder why the $14.5 million expansion is being announced with confidence amid a pandemic that’s cast uncertainty over the airline industry, but the project has been under discussion for years. Mayor Miro Weinberger said he understands the idea of even boarding a flight seems out of reach for many given the pandemic, but he’s confident that this investment will pay off when normalcy returns.
“This is one of a number of projects that, from my perspective, it’s been important we continue to pursue knowing that we are going to get through this,” Weinberger said. “We should as much as we can use this time for investment and strengthening so when we come out of this incredibly challenging time we are a stronger community and more sustainable.”
Construction will begin in July and is expected to take 12-18 months.
The FAA grant will cover 90 percent of the cost for engineering, design, and construction. The remaining 10 percent local match will be funded through the airport’s passenger facility charges.