The Gerald R Ford International Airport in West Michigan has raised a ceremonial beam to celebrate its $110m expansion of Concourse A.

Federal, state and regional business and community leaders gathered at Ford International Airport to mark the project, which will create 125 new construction jobs and add 157,000ft2 of space to Michigan’s second largest airport. The expansion of Concourse A is part of the Elevate programme, which has designated nearly $500m in infrastructure investments to improve the guest experience while positioning the airport for continued growth.

The expansion will: more than double the current capacity of Concourse A by adding eight new gates (bringing the total to 15) and widen the 66ft-concourse to 120ft and lengthen it by 510ft. The project will also increase the number and variety of F&B options by introducing a market-style open concept area featuring regionally inspired cuisine, along with other vendor spaces, and will add an executive lounge on an elevated level overlooking Concourse A, catering to the needs of business travellers.

The expansion will increase the number of retail operations, as well as providing a greater variety of seating options to accommodate guest needs, including tables, pods and soft seating options offered by West Michigan manufacturers. It will take advantage of both natural lighting and the views, and will reflect the look, feel and culture of West Michigan.

“Today has been a long time coming, and we could not be happier to celebrate this significant investment in the future of travel in West Michigan,” said Airport Authority Board chairman Dan Koorndyk. “Prior to the pandemic, Ford International Airport enjoyed double-digit passenger growth for nearly two years, necessitating this monumental transformation of what will become our signature concourse.

“As the pandemic continues to subside, our travel numbers continue to increase, putting our recovery ahead of our initial projections. Now is the time to begin the work that will position us to resume our anticipated growth trajectory for the next 20 years.”

Construction on Concourse A is expected to take 24 months, with the first phase scheduled to open in spring 2023 and be completed by the end of that year. Concourse A will remain open during construction. The Christman Company is serving as general contractor for Concourse A while Mead & Hunt is the design project manager and HKS is the architect of record.  Subcontracts are already in place with more than 30 West Michigan subcontractors.

The expansion of Concourse A received the full support of Ford International Airport’s airline partners, including legacy carriers American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines, low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines and ultra-low-cost carriers Allegiant Air and Frontier Airlines.  Upon completion, Concourse A will be home to the legacy airlines while low-cost and ultra-low-cost carriers will operate out of concourse B. 

Plans for additional infrastructure improvements under the Elevate programme are also underway, including the addition of a federal inspection station, the relocation of the current air traffic control tower, a proposed consolidated rental car facility with an enclosed walkway from the terminal, and a proposed upgrade to the airport’s checked baggage inspection system.

No local taxpayer dollars will be used to finance any of the projects included in the Elevate programme, which will be paid for with a combination of federal and state grants, municipal bonds issued by the airport and user fees.