The City of Albuquerque and Albuquerque International Sunport officials have announced a major renovation of the airport’s safety and security infrastructure.

There are three major components of the project. The first phase will relocate the TSA screening checkpoint north towards the escalators, providing greater security checkpoint efficiency for passengers and TSA agents. The second will take place largely behind the scenes, modernising the Sunport’s fire suppression, HVAC, plumbing, mechanical and electrical infrastructure, bringing them up to modern building code. Lighting fixtures throughout the terminal will be converted to LED, furthering the Sunport’s sustainability efforts.

“The Sunport is the gateway to our city and our state, and a renovation of this magnitude is long overdue,” said Mayor Tim Keller.

“This is a major project that will level-up our Sunport for traveller safety and ease of use,” added City of Albuquerque chief operations officer Lawrence Rael. “But most significantly, we are making changes behind the scenes; upgrading safety and building infrastructure to continue our work running a state-of-the-art travel hub for the southwest.”

Food, beverage and retail improvements
The final phase of the project reimagines the Sunport’s food, beverage, and retail area with a new look and expanded dining and retail opportunities.

“While we are still in the early stages of this project, we’re eager to be working with experts in airport concessions to reimagine our current offerings and explore the possibilities with a new footprint on the third level,” said Richard McCurley, interim director of aviation for the City of Albuquerque (CABQ). “The iconic culture and sense of place we all love about the Sunport will be top of mind in the design and planning stages, and we will continue our focus on local businesses and brands unique to Albuquerque and New Mexico.”

The Sunport’s current concessions programme layout was developed pre-9/11 and has not seen any significant changes or improvements. Since then, the security screening checkpoint was added and passenger behaviour has changed, with the average Sunport passenger spending 55 minutes or more post-security. Moving the TSA checkpoint forward will create a 24% larger post-security footprint, creating space for additional amenities in the area of the terminal where passengers need them most.

The Sunport is working with local architecture firm FBT Architects, chosen in 2020 via the City’s request for proposal process, to conduct surveys and develop initial concepts and designs for the redevelopment. The City is currently accepting proposals for a construction manager at risk to provide pre-construction and construction services.

The project will be phased, with construction beginning in January 2023, and is estimated to cost $85m. It will not use Albuquerque general fund dollars. The cost will be covered by federal funds and by revenue generated by the CABQ Department of Aviation.