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SLC airport expects its construction investment dollars to double in economic benefits

By: Alixel Cabrera, Utah News Dispatch

Salt Lake City International Airport returned to pre-pandemic travel levels in 2023. Another milestone it expects to reach is to produce major economic impact with its construction plans set to be ready by 2026.

For every construction dollar invested in the airport redevelopment program, the benefit is nearly twice that amount — $1.99, according to a 2024 Economic Impact Analysis by GSBS Consulting.

Overall, according to a news release from the airport, the $5.1 billion budget for the redevelopment project would result in nearly $9.8 billion in economic benefit, which includes wages, contributions to the Gross Domestic Product, and other production values of purchased services and resources.

“This report shows the significant impact construction costs are contributing to our local economy along with the broad range of industries — from architectural and engineering-related services to concrete pipe manufacturing — that are benefiting,” said Bill Wyatt, executive director of the Salt Lake City Department of Airports in a news release.

Some of the top industries impacted include construction, architecture and engineering, concrete product manufacturing and other materials, per the evaluation.

Utah’s economy has shown resilience with tourism, public construction, oil and gas extraction, and health care growing “at a healthy rate,” according to the analysis.

“Although many economic relationships seem to have returned to pre-pandemic levels — including air travel at the Airport — some still haven’t fully stabilized,” the document reads. “Several questions regarding the future remain, including whether inflation will continue its downward trend, when interest rates will decline, and whether labor markets will remain tight.”

The airport recently unveiled a preview of what’s coming this fall; a moody, more artistic and shorter walk to Concourse B, set to open to the public on Oct. 22. The new tunnel’s price tag is $80 million.

As of March 2024, more than 27 million passengers traveled to and from the airport over the course of 12 months. The airport expects to start construction of Concourse C when that number grows to 35 million. That phase, which may take a decade to start, may include a small train.

The airport is preparing to receive 30,000 passengers, and send off the same number for Memorial Day weekend. The peak departure times are 7 a.m., 10 a.m., 4 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. The airport recommends planning ahead and allowing enough time to park, check bags and go through security.

All costs for the renovation are paid with airport cash, federal grants, passenger facility charges, rental car user fees and airport revenue bonds, according to the report. No taxpayer dollars are going toward the airport project.

When the next phase is completed in late 2026, the airport will have one central terminal and a total of 94 gates on concourses A and B, including six gates dedicated for international flights.

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