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How 7 global airport projects are faring during the pandemic *Construction Dive

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Decreased passenger traffic brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has grounded a number of major airport expansion projects in the U.S. With a sudden drop in the number of travelers, airports saw their bottom lines affected beginning last year, which for some has impacted the ability to embark on years-long, multi-million and sometimes multi-billion dollar projects.

In New York, JFK International airport’s plans for a $3.8 billion Terminal 4 project were downgraded to $1.5 million following the pandemic’s impact on air travel.

But on a global scale, many airport construction projects are continuing while some are being backburnered due to environmental reasons. Here is a look at a few major international projects and how they have fared in recent months:

Serbia: Two new international airports

Nikola Tesla Airport, Belgrade, Serbia
Courtesy of Belgrade Airport

The Serbian government recently announced plans to construct two new airports, SimpleFlying reported.

One of the new airports will be located in the northern portion of the country, while the second will be located near Nikola Tesla Airport, roughly 15 miles from Belgrade. The new capital city airport will be significantly larger than Nikola Tesla, which did not have the physical space for an expansion, with three runways and a footprint of roughly 2,718 acres.

Nikola Tesla Airport is also set to see a renovation to help it cope with growing passenger numbers, according to SimpleFlying, including a plan to link the airport to the city with more public transport options.

England: Leeds Bradford Airport

Courtesy of Leeds Bradford

A £150 million ($208 million) plan to redevelop parts of the Leeds Bradford Airport, located in Yorkshire, England, has been delayed after objectors claimed it would contribute to climate change. The Leeds City Council approved the demolition of existing buildings to make way for a new terminal in February. Now, the government said it needs time for “proper consideration” of requests for the plan to be called in, the BBC reported.

The airport estimated the project would bring 12,650 permanent jobs to Leeds, as well as creating 850 construction jobs. It currently handles 4 million passengers annually, and plans to increase that to 7 million over the next 10 years. The timeline for the final decision on if the project can continue is unclear. The new terminal is not an expansion, according to Leeds Bradford Airport, as it could already expand passenger numbers with its existing facilities. Additionally, the replacement building would be an energy efficient development to help the airport achieve carbon net-zero goals by 2023.

Taiwan: Taoyuan International Airport

Courtesy of Taoyuan International Airport

Samsung’s construction unit, Samsung C&T, has won the roughly $1.56 billion contract for the construction of Terminal 3 at Taoyuan International Airport in Taiwan, according to Airport Technology. The total area of the new terminal will total 5.9 million square feet, built for a processing capacity of 45 million passengers annually. In a consortium with RSEA Engineering, Samsung’s C&T’s construction of the terminal is expected to take 5 years.

Paris: Charles de Gaulle Airport

Veronique de Viguerie / Stringer via Getty Images

The French government has scrapped plans for a fourth terminal at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, Politico reported. The fourth terminal would have had a capacity of 35 million to 40 million annual passengers, but environmentalists and local officials fought the addition, and the decrease in traffic due to the pandemic had raised questions about its viability and necessity, Reuters reported in July 2020.

The fourth terminal at France’s biggest airport did not fit with the country’s environmental goals, Ecological Transition Minister Barbara Pompili said. The airport expansion was expected to cost €7 billion to €9 billion ($8.5 billion to $10.9 billion).

Finland: Helsinki International Airport

Courtesy of Finavia

Helsinki International Airport in Finland has been undergoing expansion and upgrade work since 2014, and recently received an additional $89.4 million in funding for the project from KfW IPEX-Bank, according to Airport Technology. The total investment in the expansion has reached $1.19 billion.

In the project’s fourth phase, the airport’s Terminal 2 is being modernized and expanded, to include an expansion of check-in capacities, security checks and improvements of baggage and handling claim. Construction work includes a new entrance with a timber roof, expected to be complete by the end of the year.

Mexico: Felipe Ángeles Airport

Mexico City
Hector Vivas / Stringer via Getty Images

In April 2019, Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador announced that construction of the new 72 billion peso (U.S. $3.6 billion) Felipe Ángeles Airport at Santa Lucía Air Force Base north of Mexico City would begin in June 2019. At the time, crews were roughly 30% underway with a $13 billion airport in Texcoco, Mexico, when López Obrador canceled it, citing popular opinion and corrupt practices on the project.

At the time, the Santa Lucía facility, a commercial airport project being overseen by the military, was slated for completion in June 2021. The airport is now slated to open March 2022, according to Simple Flying, where it will operate simultaneously with Mexico City Airport and Toluca International Airport.

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