Gerald R Ford International Airport yesterday raised a ceremonial beam to celebrate its $110 million expansion of Concourse A to accommodate passenger growth.
As air travel in West Michigan nears pre-pandemic levels, Ford International Airport gathered federal, state and regional business and community leaders to commemorate the project, which will create 125 new construction jobs and add 157,000 square feet of space to Michigan’s second largest airport.
The expansion of Concourse A is part of the Elevate programme, which has designated nearly $500 million in infrastructure investments to improve the guest experience while positioning the Airport for continued growth.
The celebration comes more than two years after the Elevate programme was first announced. The expansion will:
• More than double the current capacity of Concourse A by adding eight new gates for a total of 15
• Widen the 66-foot concourse to 120 feet and lengthen it by 510 feet for a total of more than 900 feet.
• Increase the number and variety of food and beverage options by introducing a marché, or market-style open concept area featuring regionally inspired cuisine, along with other vendor spaces
• Add an executive lounge on an elevated level overlooking Concourse A that will cater to the needs of business travellers, putting Ford International on a par with larger airports, including Chicago, Boston and Atlanta
• Grow the number of retail operations
• Provide a greater variety of seating options to accommodate guest needs, including tables, pods and soft seating options offered by West Michigan manufacturers
• Take advantage of natural lighting and the views to create a visually pleasing and energy-efficient space
“Today has been a long time coming, and we could not be happier to gather today to celebrate this significant investment in the future of travel in West Michigan,” said the airport authority’s board chair, Dan Koorndyk.
“Prior to the pandemic, Ford International Airport enjoyed double-digit passenger growth for nearly two years, necessitating we undertake this monumental transformation of what will become our signature concourse.
“As the pandemic continues to subside, our travel numbers continue to increase, putting our recovery ahead of our initial projections.
“Now is the time to begin the work that will position us to resume our anticipated growth trajectory for the next 20 years – and ensure we can deliver a world-class experience as West Michigan’s gateway to the world.”
Construction on Concourse A is expected to take 24 months, with the first phase scheduled to open in spring 2023 and be completed by the end of that year. Concourse A will remain open during construction.
The expansion of Concourse A received the full support of Ford International Airport’s airline partners, including legacy carriers American Airlines, Delta and United Airlines, low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines and ultra-low cost carriers Allegiant Air and Frontier Airlines.
Upon completion, Concourse A will be home to the legacy airlines while low-cost and ultra-low cost carriers will operate out of concourse B.
“We are gratified to find support at all levels – local, state and national – for our plans to enhance the infrastructure at Ford International Airport so we can better meet the needs of our business and leisure guests today – and tomorrow,” said Tory Richardson, president and CEO of the Gerald R Ford International Airport Authority.
“We pride ourselves on our ability to connect West Michigan to the world – and vice versa. The investment being made today to expand Concourse A marks another evolutionary step in our history.
“We are grateful for the continued confidence and commitment of our elected officials, our team, our airline partners, our tenants and vendors and all who choose to Fly Ford.”
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