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Airport construction generates revenue, jobs

December 23, 2014

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An airport runway under construction at Chicago O'Hare International Airport. Photo courtesy of Benét J. Wilson

U.S. airports currently are working on nearly $80 billion in construction projects, according to the Centre for Aviation’s (CAPA) Airport Construction and Capex database.  The report notes that airports around the world spent $385 billion in 2013-14.

While there were no new airports built in the U.S. during the CAPA report’s timeframe, facilities were spending money doing major upgrades on existing infrastructure. Below are the three biggest projects currently under way.

The O’Hare Modernization Program (OMP), begun in 2007, has spent $15 billion so far on projects including: a 3,000-foot extension to Runway 10L/28R; a new a 7,500-foot long runway; a new airport traffic control tower. Once the project is completed, it will create up to 195,000 new jobs and add $18 billion to the Chicago region’s economy.

Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), which oversees Los Angeles International Airport, has spent $3.6 billion on the LAX Modernization program, which covers more than 20 individual projects. The centerpiece of the project was the $1.9 billion New Tom Bradley International Terminal Project, completed in 2010 and includes new aircraft gates and concourse areas, and a Great Hall for dining and retail. Other projects under way include: $270 million for elevator, escalator and moving walkway modernization; $613 for a new inline baggage handling and screening system; and renovations of Terminals 1 and  5, totaling $737 million.

Completed projects include a $237 million renovation of Terminal 6, a $7 million upgrade of runway lights and a renovation of the exterior of the iconic Theme Building, which cost $12.3 million. Begun in 2006, the overall program has created nearly 40,000 construction-related jobs. 

The world’s busiest airport — Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International — is working on $9 billion worth of projects since 1999, including: the expansion and renovation of 52,000 square feet of space in Concourse C; a redesign of the roadways leading to the airport; and construction of a new cargo building to accommodate an increase in international activity. 

The airport spent $1.4 billion on the new Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal, which opened in May 2012.  And it spent $1.2 billion to open its fifth runway in May 2006, saving airlines an estimated $260 million a year in delay costs. In total, Hartsfield officials say the airport has a direct economic impact of $32.5 billion in metro area and $68.3 billion in Georgia.


CAPA: Inside the world’s biggest airport construction projects in 2013/14

Chicago O’Hare Modernization Program

LAX Modernization Program

Hartsfield-Jackson Airport Construction Projects


  • Benét J. Wilson

    Benét, known as the Aviation Queen, is a senior editor at TPG who is best known for being an aviation journalist for 25-plus years. Her love affair with travel and aviation began at age 6, when her Air Force family moved from California to a military...

    View all posts

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