Why building new airports like Salt Lake City's is rare, and what it might mean for your travel plans

The resources needed for airport revamps are substantial. That's what makes building a new one so remarkable.

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  • IcemanCometh SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    June 19, 2019 10:47 p.m.

    Remember folks the airport is not being built for the passengers. They are being built for the airlines, rental car companies, and other concessions. Or to quote Maureen Riley the former director the passengers are NOT the customers. (I was in a meeting when she said that directly to me in response to one of my questions).

    As for the redesign. It is a rehash of Atlanta with zero forward thinking. For instance, one will NOT be able to park their car and walk to the terminal. One will have to take a shuttle. If One has to take a shuttle one might as well as money and park off sight. There are additional issues.

    Hopefully, they were smarter than Denver and one will be able to walk between the concourses. When the train breaks down one can NOT do that at Denver.

  • dski Herriman, UT
    June 19, 2019 6:22 p.m.

    At the beginning of the article it says, "over-$3 billion redevelopment plan paid for by the airport’s “self-sustaining fund” and uses no taxpayer dollars, the Deseret News reported." Then in the middle it says, "the government still largely pays for airport construction projects through other channels." Which is it? FAA is a taxpayer supported federal government agency. Taxpayers are always in the hook in all public projects. That is the whole turth.

  • Counter Intelligence Salt Lake City, UT
    June 19, 2019 12:38 p.m.

    @Iron Rod
    "Well if no Salt Lake City or Utah State tax payer funds are being used for the construction of the new Salt Lake International Airport and it is being paid for by the airlines and other tenants, why can not that be the matter of funding of the new”Inland Port”?"

    Good question with a good answer; The state will provide the inland port with a tax capture scheme so that the taxes generated in the area go to actually pay for the improvements in the area - so it is tax money - but only tax money generated by the inland port.
    The state basically did this because Lehi created a vast mess of development - then expected statewide taxpayers to fix it. The state is trying to prevent the old prison site and new inland port from soaking the remainder of the state for necessary improvements.

    for once i agree with embarassed Utahn: the new airport may be extremely efficient - but it is remarkably mediocre in its architecture. Even the choice of exterior colors is ugly. But i guess people go there to get though it, not admire it. At least it will be efficient and have great transit service; which places it above most major airports

  • philo dibble Salt Lake City, UT
    June 19, 2019 11:40 a.m.

    Great news, hopefully airplane restroom redesign will be next.

  • Western Rover Herriman, UT
    June 19, 2019 10:14 a.m.

    Question: If airport construction is not paid from taxes, does that mean it doesn't have to follow rules such as Davis-Bacon that drive up the cost of tax-funded construction?

  • Flipphone , 00
    June 19, 2019 9:54 a.m.

    The New SL international Airport along with the Inland port will be an economic boom for the entire wasatch front.

  • Johnny Triumph Salt Lake City, UT
    June 19, 2019 9:05 a.m.

    The new SLC will, at least in it's opening state, have fewer gates than the current airport. Newer is more efficient and doesn't need more gates. However, the new design will allow for expansion and more gates as demand increases.

    Many older airports fight with spending buckets of money on just upkeep of aging and poorly performing facilities. Look at DFW Terminal C...in massive need of a rebuild yet still a mess. The Terminal A rebuild at DFW cost nearly $1B with a brand new built from scratch Terminal D costing $1.7B. And many airports don't have the land to do what SLC or even DFW are doing. Look at the LGA or JFK renovations, needing to happen in place while servicing the full passenger load. LGA had a budget of $8B for a rebuild, JFK $13B. I'd say SLC is a bargain, even if it comes in higher than $3B

  • okeesmokee SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    June 19, 2019 8:37 a.m.

    I am glad SLC is getting a new airport - it was time. The airport will pay for itself many times over.

    As an aside, Indianapolis built an entirely new airport in 2008 southwest of the operating terminal. I believe most of Detroit's airport is new also, but it doesn't help the soundbite. Most airports are remodeling, however, not building entirely new facilities.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    June 19, 2019 8:31 a.m.

    @curious george - , 00
    June 19, 2019 7:05 a.m.
    The need for improvement aside. As a consumer, all this really means is I pay for the place with my tax dollars and then get charge excessively to use it. What a deal!"

    Uh-No. You're not paying for it with your tax dollars. It's funded by federal grants, user fees, airport revenue bonds and airport reserves. No local tax dollars are used. The SLC airport is one of the most cost effective, efficient and well run airports in the country. For a State of only 3 million, we are very lucky to have it.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    June 19, 2019 8:25 a.m.

    @procuradorfiscal - Tooele, UT
    June 19, 2019 6:08 a.m.
    Which really means bureaucratic airport authorities have gone blind to the real lesson to be learned -- bigger airports are inherently less capable of meeting the public's needs.
    If the SLC airport authority were actually interested in meeting Utah's needs, it would have scrapped plans for becoming bigger and less responsive, and concentrated on upgrading facilities in Ogden, Provo, and St. George to lessen the load on SLC."

    That's ridiculous. Major carriers aren't going to reroute flights to two horse towns. It makes no sense financially or strategically. SLC is a global hub. No one is going to fly from Boise, Bozeman, Spokane, Vegas, etc. to Provo or Ogden to connect to NYC, Paris or ATL. Ogden, St. George and Provo are terminating points. They don't have the maintenance facilities, fueling capabilities or ATC abilities. Plus, I know residents of those cities would scream if they started operating a full blown airport 24/7.

  • Sequoya Stafford, VA
    June 19, 2019 8:06 a.m.

    Why tear down the older facilities?? Seems unnecessary; they are still very functional. that, plus the new construction can provide for the almost inevitable expansion of service requirements.

  • neece Hyde Park, UT
    June 19, 2019 8:02 a.m.

    I can't stand LAX it is a mess, overcrowded and I am handicapped so we requested to have a wheelchair standing by when we got there... they had this little women couldn't have been over 100 lbs try and push me through the airport. She was so small it was hard for her and we went so slow I felt I could have gotten out of the chair and ran (with a prosthetic) faster than she could push. I can certainly see why it was voted worst airport.

  • West Jordanians of Utah WEST JORDAN, UT
    June 19, 2019 7:57 a.m.

    I love the new airport. It was well planned for growth and opens up more opportunities for nonstop international travel. Security screening process and missionary returns will be so much better. All this tells me that the SLC airport will be a place that welcomes the world. Awesome!

  • Makid Salt Lake City, UT
    June 19, 2019 7:29 a.m.

    Bigger airports are more efficient than spreading things out to other airports. This is why SLC is building bigger and planning for future expansions.

    Without this, just imagine if you were flying into an airport and had to switch carriers or to a partner airline that was based at another (area) airport.

    You had better hope your layover is more than 2 hours as you will need to get your bags, arrange transportation, travel, recheck bags, and clear security again and hope that you still catch your connection.

    A consolidated/larger airport allows for quick movement between connections and carriers. It also makes it easier for ground transportation, air traffic control, luggage handling and weather.

    Imagine the chaos of having Delta at SLC, United in Provo, American in Ogden, and SouthWest in Tooele. Air traffic patterns would need to change dramatically, flights would be delayed or rerouted, passengers, tourists, and the airlines would cut back flights dramatically causing less money for the State.

  • curious george , 00
    June 19, 2019 7:05 a.m.

    The need for improvement aside. As a consumer, all this really means is I pay for the place with my tax dollars and then get charge excessively to use it. What a deal!

  • embarrassed Utahn! Salt Lake City, UT
    June 19, 2019 6:32 a.m.

    Look at the list of the world's most beautiful airports. You won't see SLC on the list. Other countries like New Zealand, Dubai, China, Spain, Morocco, and others have created architectural masterpieces that inspire.

    SLC airport looks like a big-box mall and the focus is on "street price" retail (i.e. fast food and materialistic goods that our feed our unsustainable lifestyle). What an opportunity missed; but that's what we do in Utah...We accept mediocrity.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    June 19, 2019 6:08 a.m.

    Re: "As major airports have reached their limit of quick fixes for modernizing outdated facilities, they now have to begin major redesigns . . . ."

    Which really means bureaucratic airport authorities have gone blind to the real lesson to be learned -- bigger airports are inherently less capable of meeting the public's needs.

    If the SLC airport authority were actually interested in meeting Utah's needs, it would have scrapped plans for becoming bigger and less responsive, and concentrated on upgrading facilities in Ogden, Provo, and St. George to lessen the load on SLC.

    But that would have meant, of course, adopting reason over empire-building -- which can never happen in a government bureaucracy.

    Sad.

  • FordGuy Novi, MI
    June 19, 2019 5:45 a.m.

    Denver was not the last new airport built nor is the new SLC airport the first new one of the 21st century. Detroit Wayne International (DTW) is new this century. The new McNamara terminal was completed in 2002 and the North Terminal completed in 2012. All new terminals and not just an update.

  • Iron Rod Salt Lake City, UT
    June 19, 2019 3:32 a.m.

    Well if no Salt Lake City or Utah State tax payer funds are being used for the construction of the new Salt Lake International Airport and it is being paid for by the airlines and other tenants, why can not that be the matter of funding of the new”Inland Port”?

    The proponents who pushed the project thru in the last hours of the legislature were eager to have the State of Utah fund it rather than private industry as in the new airport..

  • toosmartforyou Kaysville, UT
    June 19, 2019 12:23 a.m.

    There are certainly plenty of airports that are dinosaurs, which I would say include Minneapolis, O'Hare in Chicago, and Charlotte, NC for certain. Baltimore ranks right up there, too. After revamping a few concourses, inevitably vendors are allowed to encroach on the circulation space and reduce efficiency of moving persons from one location to another. It's a miracle those antiquated facilities function as well as they do most of the time. At least at DFW where the corridors are very narrow they have a people mover that goes around the outside to every terminal and is very helpful; the crowded trains at ATL and DIA--not so much.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    June 18, 2019 11:18 p.m.

    Re: "As major airports have reached their limit of quick fixes for modernizing outdated facilities, they now have to begin major redesigns . . . ."

    Which means airport authorities have gone blind to the real lesson to be learned -- bigger airports are inherently less capable of meeting the public's needs.

    If the SLC airport authority were actually interested in meeting Utah's needs, it would have scrapped plans for becoming bigger and less responsive, and concentrated on upgrading facilities in Ogden, Provo, and St. George to lessen the load in SLC.

    But that would have meant, of course, adopting reason over empire-building -- which can never happen in a government bureaucracy.

    Sad.