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Looking to the future


The host of ambitious infrastructure development projects unveiled across the globe in the final quarter of 2022 shows confidence in the future growth of aviation and the investor appeal of airports, writes Joe Bates.

It proved to be a busy end to 2022 with global traffic figures on the rise and the announcement of a number of big infrastructure development decisions that will either help transform the airports that are planning them or create new greenfield gateways.

Our end of year round-up provides a snapshot of what is to come at Chicago O’Hare in the US, a glimpse at the potential future for Brisbane Airport in Australia; and discover what’s in store for Macau International Airport.

We also look at some of the most ambitious plans ever unveiled for new airports courtesy of projects in Poland and Saudi Arabia and reflect on the openings of new facilities in Doha, Hong Kong and Los Angeles.

News about two other significant US airport projects – New York JFK’s planned Terminal 6 and the opening of Newark Liberty’s Terminal A – can be found in the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s article about how it is using PPP projects to transform the Big Apple’s airports, on pages 22-24 of this issue.

All the way USA

The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) has received the green light to go ahead with its proposed Terminal Area Plan (TAP) at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

The decision, following the completion of the FAA’s environmental review of the project, paves the way for construction to start on two new satellite concourses at the gateway and the new O’Hare Global Terminal that will replace Terminal 2.

“Chicago’s transportation infrastructure is what makes this city an economic powerhouse of global importance,” said US Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg Buttigieg. “Now, as we prepare to break ground on O’Hare’s newest terminal, Chicago and this entire region will be positioned to grow and create good-paying jobs through the benefits of first-rate infrastructure, beginning with the construction project itself.”

CDA commissioner, Jamie Rhee, said: “We now have a clear path forward to start construction on the Terminal Area Plan which includes Satellite Concourses 1 and 2 and the O’Hare Global Terminal, the centre-pieces of the capital improvement programme we call O’Hare 21.

“I thank the FAA for its comprehensive review of the proposed plan as we work to completely transform the O’Hare experience for the traveller of tomorrow.”

The review analysed a number of Chicago Department of Aviation projects including new terminals, on-airport hotels, airfield and taxiway improvements and support facilities.

It also reviewed the FAA’s proposal to make permanent angled approaches to Runway 10R/28L to allow simultaneous arrivals to multiple runways.

The FAA, which started the review process in 2018, concluded that the proposed construction projects and changes to air traffic procedures will not significantly affect any environmental resources, including noise, air quality, water resources, and historic sites.

Its decision clears the way for construction to begin on the satellite concourses and related airfield work when the ground thaws this spring. The current construction timeline calls for the first satellite concourse to be completed in 2027 and the second satellite concourse to reach completion in 2028.

Demolition of Terminal 2, the airport’s oldest passenger facility, will occur in phases. The work is scheduled to begin in 2026, with a target completion date of 2030 for the construction of the O’Hare Global Terminal.

Construction of a large tunnel connecting passengers, baggage, and utilities between the O’Hare Global Terminal and the satellite concourses is anticipated to begin in 2024 with a construction completion date of 2030.

The current capital programme for O’Hare is approximately $12.1 billion, which accounts for current project estimates, escalated costs permitted under the 2018 agreement, as well as capital investments agreed to both since and prior to the 2018 agreement.

The total budget for the TAP is currently estimated to be $7.1 billion, or 59% of the overall capital plan.

Brisbane Airport considers new Terminal 3

Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) is consulting with its airline partners about the possibility of a future Terminal 3 as it looks at ways of best accommodating a projected 50 million passengers annually by 2040.

“We are running out of terminal capacity and we’re looking at the best location, together with our airline partners, for where that new terminal will go,” said BAC CEO, Gert-Jan de Graaff.

“We think it will be in between the two runaways because that’s the perfect location to minimise aircraft taxiing, and it is close to our current domestic terminal.

“We need more domestic capacity to cater for demand. A few of our domestic airlines will likely go into Terminal 3. We might even allocate some international traffic in there as well to provide for better connectivity between domestic and international flights.

“Terminal 3 will be state-of-the-art, so that will be a terminal built for the 2030s. Sustainability will be at the front and center of our plans, as will accessibility.”

Brisbane Airport is currently planning to invest more than A$5 billion over the next 10 years on upgrading its existing terminals, building extra car parking, developing BNE as a regional aeromedical hub, expanding its retail precincts and building more freight facilities.

Green light for Macau expansion

China’s Central Government has approved the expansion of Macau International Airport to raise the gateway’s capacity, boost its operational efficiency and improve connectivity to the Special Administrative Region (SAR).

Like in nearby Hong Kong, the expansion project will involve reclaiming land from the sea, which in Macau International Airport’s case is expected to be around 130 hectares, and take place in different phases whose timings will be based on traffic demand.

The airport handled 9.6 million passengers in 2019, and following the completion of the first phase of the expansion programme is expected to be to handle in excess of 15 million passengers annually.

The Macau SAR Government says that it “hoped that improvements to airport infrastructure and the further opening of the air transport market, would facilitate the recovery and development of the aviation industry locally, and help create a more sustainable path for Macau’s civil aviation sector”.

Macau’s Civil Aviation Authority (AACM) has also issued a statement expressing gratitude for Beijing’s approval and optimism about the future development of the aviation sector.

It said: “AACM is confident that the enhancement of the airport infrastructure, the optimisation of the terminal facilities, the gradual resumption of flight services, and the expansion of the aviation network will offer more diversified services to both Macau residents and travellers from the Pearl River Delta Region.”

New Riyadh meg hub and aerotropolis

Saudi Arabia has unveiled plans for a new mega hub for Riyadh which will be called King Salman International Airport.

According to the master plan, King Salman International Airport will boost Riyadh’s position as a global logistics hub and stimulate transport, trade and tourism.

It is ultimately expected to accommodate up to 185 million passengers per annum and process 3.5 million tons of cargo yearly by 2050.

The gateway will be located on a huge 57 square kilometre site allowing for six parallel runways and airport support facilities, residential and recreational facilities, and retail outlets.

Saudi officials state that it will will be built with sustainability at its core, ensuring that King Salman International Airport will be powered by renewable energy.

The bold plan was unveiled by His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Prime Minister and chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA) and chairman of the Public Investment Fund (PIF).

He noted that the masterplan for King Salman International Airport will boost Riyadh’s position as a global logistics hub, stimulate transport, trade and tourism, and act as a bridge linking the East with the West.

The airport project is in line with Saudi Arabia’s vision to transform Riyadh to be among the top ten city economies in the world and to support the growth of Riyadh’s population to 15–20 million people by 2030.

In addition to its aviation infrastructure, the airport site will also include 12 square kilometres of airport support facilities, residential and recreational facilities, retail outlets, and other logistics real estate.

If all goes to plan, the airport aims to accommodate up to 120 million passengers per annum by 2030 and potentially around 185 million by 2050, along with the capacity to process 3.5 million tons of cargo annually.

And there’s more as its backers want the new gateway to become an aerotropolis centred around a seamless customer journey, world-class efficient operations, and innovation.

Riyadh’s identity and the Saudi culture, they say, will be taken into consideration in the airport’s design to ensure a unique travel experience for visitors and transit travellers.

“With sustainability at its core, the new airport will achieve LEED Platinum certification by incorporating cutting edge green initiatives into its design and will be powered by renewable energy,” says PIF.

The announcement comes as part of PIF’s strategy which focuses on unlocking the capabilities of promising sectors to enhance Saudi Arabia’s efforts in diversifying the economy, and it is in line with the National Transport Strategy and the Global Supply Chain Resilience Initiative.

The new airport is expected to contribute around $7 billion annually to non-oil GDP and to create 103,000 direct and indirect jobs, in line with Vision 2030 objectives.

New airport in Central Poland a step closer to reality

NACO is part of a consortium, together with Foster + Partners and Buro Happold that will be the master architect of the Centralny Port Komunikacyjny (CPK) – a new greenfield airport terminal and train station in Central Poland.

The hub aims to be operational by 2028, initially serving 40 million passengers annually and acting as a gateway to the country.

Royal HaskoningDHV subsidiary, NACO, has been chosen to provide a range of aviation and design sub-consultancy services towards the development of the CPK, in consortium with its project partners.

These will include terminal and rail station planning, baggage handling, IT, security and special airport systems, design of wayfinding and the landside-airside co-ordination.

The creation of the CPK airport between Warsaw and Łódź is part of Poland’s new transport development programme, Centralny Port Komunikacyjny.

The large infrastructure project also includes a network of new railway lines totalling 2,000km in length. Once completed, it will be possible to reach Poland’s largest cities from Warsaw in no more than two and a half hours.

Combining the greenfield international airport with a Public Transport Interchange (railway and bus station) and road connectivity will, theoretically, mean that CPK has the potential to become the main gateway to Poland.

Marcin Horola, the Polish government minister associated with the project, said: “We have marked one of the most important milestones – the inauguration of the co-operation with the master architect, who will have the most spectacular influence on the shape of the new airport.

“I am confident that it will not only look great, but will provide the best passenger experience, putting them at the heart of the design.”

The concept design of key CPK buildings is expected to be ready as early as the middle of 2023, and all other design services will be provided within two and a half years from the contract conclusion date.

According to developers, the envisaged integrated design will be based on sustainable design principles; the four pillars of biophilia and wellbeing; visual and seamless connectivity; structural and operational efficiency, and smart and flexible technologies.

Grant Brooker, head of studio, for Foster + Partners, said: “We believe that this project will completely revolutionise travel across the country and beyond. The vision of woven architectural form is deliberately and strongly expressed.

“It could shape the building and guide the passengers through its spaces, while also serving as a powerful symbolic reference to Poland’s rich cultural heritage and the united strength of its people.”

New kids on the block

Airports around the world unveiling new facilities in Q4 2022 included Hamad International Airport (DOH), Los Angeles International (LAX) and Hong Kong (HKG), which unveiled a newly expanded passenger terminal, the opening of Terminal 4.5 Core, and Sky Bridge respectively.

Hamad believes its expansion project, which has allowed for the creation of a tropical garden with over 300 trees and 25,000 plants at the centre of the terminal, will enrich the passenger experience and transform the airport into an “extraordinary destination where any journey is worthwhile”.

In Los Angeles, the ongoing modernisation of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) continues with the opening of the Terminal 4.5 Core, the first major component to be completed as part of a $1.62 billion project at the 60-year-old Terminals 4 and 5.

While Hong Kong’s new 200 metre long Sky Bridge allows passengers to travel between Terminal 1 and its Satellite Concourse (T1S). It is also a record breaker as its 28m height means that it is the world’s longest airside bridge that allows Code F aircraft such as
the A380 to pass under it.

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