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San Antonio International Airport plans to double in size with additional terminal

Airport officials say SAT is reaching capacity and presented plans to double its size with a third terminal, adding 17 more gates.

SAN ANTONIO — Come fall 2024, San Antonio International Airport (SAT) officials expect to start construction on a third terminal that would add 1.5 million additional square feet. That would more than double the size of the entire airport, as it now stands at 1.2 million square feet, according to Director of Airports Jesus Saenz.

The Terminal Development Program (TDP) is a key component from the 20-year, $2.5 billion master plan, unanimously approved by city council in November.

SAT is expecting $11.7 million a year in federal funds for the next five years, totaling nearly $60 million towards the expansion.

During Wednesday’s city council briefing, Saenz reminded the public that expansion funds will not come from taxpayers.

“Unless you use the airport, you don’t pay for the airport. It’s an enterprise fund, it comes directly from the revenue used that are generated through the airport,” Saenz said.

While the pandemic impacted revenue, Saenz said they are already starting to see 2019 level travel numbers, and they expect a busy summer as well.

Once built, the terminal would bring the total number of gates at SAT to 37, allowing for more flights and airlines coming and going from the Alamo City.

District 8 Councilman Manny Pelaez noted the lack of direct flights coming out of SAT, saying that's been an “Achilles' heel.”

“And it’s OK, I mean, we’re naming the problem, and my hope is that we’re solving for that very unfortunate conversation that we’ve had for the past 20 years,” Pelaez said.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg expressed the city’s full support in moving towards a bigger, more modern airport, while also addressing the importance of staying on track.

“My biggest hope is the attention that’s being paid to the airport plans right now does not wane over the next five, 10 years (with) the more difficult work of the implantation,” Nirenberg said.

SAT plans to update city council at least three times a year on everything related to airport expansion projects over the course of this five-to-seven-year initiative.

The city is expected to start construction for the new terminal in early 2024. Employee parking will have to be moved, as well as some concessions, but Saenz is not expecting major disruptions to travelers.

The city plans to solicit $1.2 billion in contract bids to put towards Terminal C, a ground transportation center and a new parking garage. SAT will present those solicitations beginning in June.

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