SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. – On Thursday, Senator Patrick Leahy and Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger joined airport officials at Burlington International Airport in a groundbreaking ceremony for the Terminal Improvement Project.
Over 25,000 square feet of space will be added to the airport, which is expected to cut down on wait times for TSA screening, while leaving the door open for future growth.
Weinberger and Senator Leahy signed a steel beam for the ceremony, signaling their approval of the $15 million project.
“That might seem like a lot for an area like this, but the fact is, this airport is so much better than cities much larger than this area,” Senator Leahy said.
As chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Leahy was influential in securing the funding, which is typically hard to come by for mid-size airports like BTV.
“For a number of years, investing in terminals for an airport the size of Burlington International was not a priority of the FAA,” Seantor Leahy said. “Well, they’ve seen a lot of pictures of Burlington and they’ve heard a lot from me.”
The project will consolidate security into one TSA checkpoint, and it’s also expected to increase travel destinations. Mayor Weinberger said its an important expansion at a time when friends and families are planning to see each other for the first time in over a year and a half.
“The opportunity to visit family, travel or explore as well as attend major events like weddings, graduations, births and funerals,” Weinberger said. “Every time we have a trip out here that ends in a reunion, it represents an important and welcome return to normalcy.”
Despite the ongoing impact of the pandemic, Acting Director of Aviation Nic Longo said the airport is in the midst of a rebound.
“Our percentages are climbing a little bit faster than we expected,” Longo said. “Right now, we’re between 60 to 75 percent of our 2019 numbers, which was a historical 10 year number for us.”
Construction is expected to be complete by Fall 2022.
Mayor Weinberger’s visit to the airport also brought some questions about the process for hiring a new aviation director. Former Director Gene Richards was ousted in a 10 to 1 city council vote last month after an investigation found behavior some employees found humiliating and offensive.
“We have not set a timeline for a permanent search,” he said. “We will do a search before appointing a permanent director, but we haven’t initiated that yet.”