Saturday, July 27, 2013

San Angelo Regional Airport (KSJT) renovations coming along - Expected to be finished in '14

SAN ANGELO, Texas — San Angelo’s Regional Airport, one of the city’s gateways, is expanding and getting a face-lift.

“It’s going to be a beautiful terminal,” said Luis Elguezabal, airport director.

Phase 1 of the airport renovation — which includes the lobby’s passenger meet-and-greet area and work spaces for Transportation Security Administration, airline and airport staff — is 90 percent complete, he said.

The changes should alleviate the issue of “crisscross” that Elguezabal said people encountered, particularly when they tried to access the baggage claim area. “A lot of people got confused.”

Once the first phase is complete, families will be able to see their loved ones go up to the concourse through floor-length glass windows, Elguezabal said, a response to complaints staff had heard.

Phase 2 is 50 percent complete, he said, and is projected for completion in November. It includes expansion of the rental car and baggage claim area as well as exterior work to the building and the parking lots near the northern portion.

The project has three phases and is expected to be largely complete by spring 2014. The renovations are meant to improve the airport’s aesthetics and create more space for passenger flow and, hopefully, an additional carrier.

The third and final phase will involve opening space south of the baggage claim area, the restroom and café spaces and exterior work to the south portion of the building and parking lots.

“One of the biggest challenges has been keeping the airport operational,” said David Alexander, manager of the San Angelo office of Texas-based firm KSA Engineers.

Templeton Construction is the general contractor for the $5.9 million project.

The Federal Aviation Administration is funding $5.1 million of the renovation costs. Remaining funding comes from a user fee for those flying out of the airport, as well as $500,000 from half-cent sales tax revenues that voters approved to dedicate to the project.

“None of this is from the city’s general fund,” Elguezabal said.

With the increase of oil field-related activity in the area, the need for another carrier and destination has grown, Elguezabal said.

City officials have met with executives from Utah-based SkyWest Airlines to discuss adding two daily flights to Houston.

“We’ve been trying for two years to attract another airline, particularly out of Houston,” he said.

After it confers with its partner carrier, United Airlines, SkyWest will have a decision within six to nine months, Elguezabal said.

To date, the number of people flying out of the airport is up 3 percent this year over 2012, at 58,000 enplanements.

With an additional airline servicing Houston, airport staff have a goal of 125,000 enplanements annually.

Earlier in the year, American Eagle added a fifth daily flight for Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

One of the great assets to San Angelo’s regional airport, which Elguezabal hopes to maintain, is its free parking.

“We are the only airport that doesn’t charge for parking,” he said. “That’s a major revenue service for airports.”

With officials expecting increased air traffic as another symptom of growth, visitors will be greeted by a grander and more spacious airport when entering San Angelo next spring.

“Use your hometown airport,” Elguezabal said.