Airports in U.S. Trying to Take Flight

As the United States attempts to catch up a lagging infrastructure, airports have been a target for investment and growth. Is it too little?

Rob Hubbell, a Lead Fueler, from Menzies Aviation, shared his observations on the growth at Austin-Bergstrom International.

Once upon a time, my focus on air travel was confined to making it through TSA with my sanity intact and hoping the middle seat in my row would be left unoccupied. However, over the years, during my tenure at BidPrime, I’ve become conditioned to notice the widespread construction, upgrades, and other activity in, and around, U.S. airports.

Government and business leaders in the U.S. are reaching a better understanding, and acknowledging, that inferior airports are bad for business. It’s well past time.

The Worry

You can spend five minutes navigating the internet and you will find a motherload of reports and stories on the sad state of many U.S. airports.

It wasn’t that long ago that opinions and forecasts for U.S. airports were extremely bleak. If you undertook the search mentioned previously, you have seen that in many instances things are at best, not very good. Last June, Travel + Leisure released, 'This Is Just How Bad U.S. Airports and Airlines Are Compared to the Rest of the World', “U.S. airlines and airports did not perform well in the global survey. The best-performing U.S. airline was American. Only six U.S. airports ranked in the top half of the total 142 airports.”

For an “off the beaten path” opinion on U.S. airports, one of our researchers came across, 'THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE U.S. AIRPORT’, “Our airports are terrible, and our airlines are finding it harder to compete. We’ve done it to ourselves through flyer-unfriendly policies.”, as posted in Patrick Smith’s blog, Ask The Pilot.

Just three years ago, Skift reported, “The average airport in the United States is about 40 years old. The youngest airport in the U.S. just had its 20th birthday last month: Denver International Airport,” Burke tells us. “That’s our youngest large hub airport in the United States.”

The Hope

For certain, it isn’t all negative news. Worth repeating, there is some action being taken. However, do not confuse “some” with “enough”. Back in July ‘15, as we prepared our report, ‘Which Key Areas of Airports are Being Addressed by Government Agencies?’, we identified 485 bids, over the preceding twelve months, with “airport” in the bid title. Today, as we queried the previous year, there have been more than double that number of airport-related solicitations.

Of the five biggest airport construction projects in the world, two of them involve airports in the United States. In their Oct 11, 2018 report, 7 giant airport projects around the world take flight’, Construction Divenoted, “The U.S. alone could see up to $70 billion spent on more than 50 airport construction projects in the next three years, driven by the need to modernize aging facilities as well as renovate to accommodate technological advances.”

Right here, in the ‘Live Music Capital of the World’, we see improvements. As Mr. Hubbell showcased above, here in Austin, Texas, our once fledgling airport, Austin-Bergstrom International, has morphed into an ever growing example of an airport on the rise. The most obvious growth has been in the number of terminals serviced. The days of only 25 gates are a thing of history, as Hubbell pointed out.

More, and associated construction and services, are on the way. Not stopping there, ABIA has also installed  glass on an oculus design feature, plans are in the works for a New Airport Consolidated Maintenance Complex, Administration Building Construction, expanded parking entries and exit toll plazas are in place. Oh, and did I mention the world’s first airport with a robotic coffee haus? What will they think of next?

We searched within our BidPrime database and found the following, amongst the 100’s of current, active airport-related bids/RFPs.



With countries the world over continuing to compete in the airport arms race, how will the U.S. come up with the estimated $75 billion needed to upgrade airports, as projected by numerous experts? That’s just one number being tossed about. According to Airport World, that figure doesn’t meet the mark, “A new study has found that US airports need to invest nearly $100 billion on infrastructure over the next five years to accommodate growth in passenger and cargo activity, rehabilitate existing facilities, and support aircraft innovation.” Well, let’s meet in the middle and agree that the U.S. needs to come up with considerable resources.

Taxes, fees, and other forms of investment are being leveraged, or considered, and as we’ve ventured to show, some is being done. It’s past time for more.

To see more about bids / RFPs related to airports, and to view the bid documentation, call us at 888.808.5356 or visit BidPrime.

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