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U.S. Airports Raise $30 Billion in Bonds for Renovations


By Ryan Berlin Maintenance & Operations
Passengers in an airport

As commercial and institutional facilities age and become dated, renovation is an option maintenance and engineering managers must consider in order to modernize the facility and affect the bottomline.

Since the beginning of 2017, airports across the United States have raised nearly $30 billion in the bond market to finance work needed to accommodate record numbers of passengers. Chicago is planning a major expansion for O’Hare International. New York’s LaGuardia is getting a major makeover. In Salt Lake City, the entire airport, with the exception of its runways, will essentially be rebuilt over the next five years.

Like many airports around the country, Kansas City’s airport, which opened in 1972, is not well-suited to the times.

Kansas City’s nearly five-decade-old airport, whose brutalist-style, poured-concrete terminals make it appear like a relic of a bygone age. The $1.5 billion, four-year renovation is the largest public works project ever in Missouri’s biggest city and part of a growing construction boom by American municipalities that are overhauling airports built when “jet-set” was a synonym for the one percent, according to Bloomberg. 

Patrick Klein, director of aviation at the airport, said its three, separated U-shaped terminals -- one of which is currently empty -- are essentially "cement igloos" that don’t allow it to add more restrooms, concessions, nursing areas or other facilities that travelers have come to expect. That means it has been largely unchanged since the opening, despite a nearly tripling in passenger traffic. The renovation will transform the three-terminal space into a single-terminal operation.

The airport completed a $110 million debt placement with Morgan Stanley for initial costs, and the city council has approved about $1.8 billion in bonds for the project. John Green, the airport’s chief financial officer, said the first round of bonds -- expected to be about $800 to $900 million -- will be sold in the "early to mid-summer."

The sheer scale and scope of the Kansas City project separates it from others. They’re essentially constructing an entirely new facility with tarmac upgrades, a parking garage and a new road network to get to the facility, in addition to an entirely new terminal.

Ryan Berlin is digital content manager of Facilitiesnet.com.

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