Q: How will this benefit passengers?
Airport passengers will benefit in a number of ways from the concourse modernization at Memphis International Airport (MEM). Gates will no longer be spread out across three concourses – for the most part, they will be consolidated into one. A new ground boarding area for commuter airlines will be created on the A Concourse, as well. Travelers will have more access to concessionaires since these businesses will all be located in the B Concourse. There will be more room to move through the widened corridors and larger boarding areas, more lighting from added windows and taller ceilings, and enhanced customer service via the addition of moving walkways. With these improvements, MEM will retain the capacity to expand significantly in the future.
Q: When will this begin?
Construction will begin in September 2018 and is expected to continue until the project’s expected completion in mid to late summer 2021. All airlines, retail and food and beverage businesses will operate out of the A and C Concourses until that time.
Q: What’s different about the project since the initial announcement?
Several aspects of the project have changed. First, while the original plan called for renovating and adding on to Concourse B, the updated modernization plan calls for the complete redesign of most of the concourse. The B Concourse will be closed during construction, and airlines and tenants will operate out of the A and C Concourses during that time. The south end of the C Concourse will remain intact until the B Concourse is completed and airlines have moved from C to B. The southwest leg of the B Concourse will be modernized in a future phase, and will only be utilized in the near term for passengers from inbound international flights.
Q: Why aren’t you modernizing the southwest leg of the B Concourse?
There are two primary reasons that the southwest part of the B Concourse will not be modernized: cost and usage. A complete redesign of that part of the concourse would add significantly to the overall project cost, which would be passed on to the airline partners. This would also result in a redesigned area that would not be immediately utilized because there would be more gates than necessary. The current construction plans will allow for 23 gates on B plus two ground boarding gates on A for commuter airlines. It is projected that the modernized portion of the B Concourse will be able to accommodate at least three million enplanements annually. That represents a 50 percent increase over current enplanement totals. However, if passenger growth increased substantially, the Airport Authority would have the ability to modernize the southwest leg of the B Concourse, which could add as many as 15 more gates.
Q: How long will it take? Why?
The project is expected to take about 2 ½ years, due to the numerous phases and the extent of the improvements. During this period, the airport and airlines will continue to maintain normal operations for our travelers, without disruption. By closing the B Concourse during construction, the overall construction time will be reduced. The redesigned B Concourse is projected to open by mid to late summer 2021.
Q: How much will it cost?
The total construction cost for the B Concourse is expected to be approximately $245 million. Project funding will include general airport revenue bonds, state and federal grants, passenger facility charges (PFCs) and other Authority capital funds. However, this project does not involve any local tax dollars. It is funded entirely by the Airport Authority and its airline partners.
Q: Why is this estimate so much higher than the initial one?
The original estimate only included concourse B construction costs. This updated estimate is an “all-in” total that includes additional design costs and related construction such as jet bridge improvements on the A and C Concourses that are necessary to accommodate additional airline operations.
Q: Is the airport closing A and C concourses?
Eventually, yes. However, during the construction of the modernized B Concourse, all airlines and concessionaires will operate out of the A and C Concourses. Once construction is complete, the airlines and concessionaires will begin relocating to B. Once all the airlines have moved from C to B, the south end of C will be removed to ensure a free flow of aircraft traffic into the east side of the B Concourse. After consolidation, check-in will continue in the A, B and C ticketing areas. You will also still be able to enter and exit through the A and C baggage claim areas.
Q: Will airline services be affected?
No, the airlines will continue to operate normally in terms of ticketing, flights and baggage. The primary change once the project is completed will be that all airline gate operations will be located in the B Concourse. The Airport Authority will continue to update the public on any changes that this relocation creates.
Q: How will the concessionaires be affected?
The retail and restaurant businesses at the airport will benefit from the improved flow of passenger traffic. In addition, the B Concourse will feature new and enhanced retail and food options. In addition, more concession options will be added to A and C to accommodate additional passengers while the B Concourse is closed for construction.
Q: Will there be enough room for future airlines?
Yes. The Airport Authority will continue to relentlessly pursue frequent and affordable air service and will be able to accommodate the addition of future airlines and flights.
Q: Does this mean we won’t be a hub again?
Airlines are reducing hubs rather than adding them, making it less likely that MEM will be selected as an airline transfer hub again. However, this project will not inhibit MEM’s ability to serve as a hub should the opportunity arise.
Q: Will this affect FedEx?
No, FedEx will not be affected.