Local and federal officials on Aug. 30 marked the groundbreaking of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport's $164 million West Gate Expansion project, the latest and largest yet in a series of airport upgrades through Journey With AUS, its multiphase development program.

What happened

ABIA's 84,500-square-foot West Gate Expansion will extend the Barbara Jordan Terminal beyond its existing gates 33 and 34. The project is expected to be completed in spring 2026.

An airport expansion project will add new gates and public spaces for travelers. (Courtesy Austin-Bergstrom International Airport)

The expansion will include:
  • Three new boarding gates, which in the future will offset separate gate closures anticipated for other pieces of the airport's expansion
  • A new third-floor mezzanine space with an outdoor balcony and indoor area above the main concourse
  • Five new seated waiting areas
  • The replacement of 12 gate boarding bridges
  • New food and retail concessions
  • New restrooms, a children's play area, family and nursing rooms, a meditation room, and a pet relief room
  • A decorative moontower
While temporary walls will be put up during construction, the project will not close any existing gates. Some furniture in the area will be shifted around, and the west wing’s I Vinni concession will be removed early next year.

Austin taxpayers are off the hook for the expansion, which will be funded through ABIA’s cash reserves, airport revenues and future bonds.

New federal dollars may also support the project. U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, said he hopes to secure more funding for ABIA projects moving forward following the millions already secured through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

What they’re saying

Doggett said the expansion comes as ABIA is becoming “overwhelmed” with the region’s growth and development.

“Today represents a small but important step in making this airport a little bit bigger. The West Gate Expansion with new gates, dining and seating areas will make travel a little easier for all of us and hopefully make this airport even more inviting,” he said at the groundbreaking.

Doggett’s Central Texas colleague, Rep. Greg Casar, D-Austin, said the multimillion-dollar addition is an important one for Austinites given its potential to unlock cheaper flights, provide more travel options that are more convenient and add to the tens of thousands of jobs at ABIA.

“We want you to have more direct flights at a cheaper cost. And to do that, we need an expanded airport. We need an airport that is growing at the pace that Austin is growing at,” Casar said. “We’re going to fight every single day to make sure that your taxpayer dollars that you send to Washington, D.C., come back home, and to make sure that airlines and the private industry are continuing to chip in to make sure that our airport expands at the rate that it needs to expand.”

An airport expansion project will add new gates and public spaces for travelers. (Courtesy Austin-Bergstrom International Airport)

After reminiscing on the history of ABIA’s opening in the 1990s, Mayor Kirk Watson said the latest step in Journey With AUS will be one that benefits Austinites and travelers to Central Texas.

“It’s going to be a journey, and like any journey I want to start off right now telling you that there will be diversions. There will be bumps along the way. But our team will transform this 24/7 operation into multiple active construction sites,” he said. “We’re not going to take for granted that our travelers and our community members are along with us for this ride, or this flight. It’s going to be the flight of a generation, and we’re looking forward to expanding this so that it meets the needs of our growing and wonderful city.”

The context

The phased Journey With AUS program includes several initial improvements as the airport moves through various upgrades included in its 2040 Master Plan.

The updates come as ABIA has seen surging passenger activity, and as the Central Texas area overall continues to grow.
“With nine of our 10 busiest days in history happening within the last two years, we are moving with urgency to expand and improve the airport long-term while looking to have interim short-term improvements to have the best passenger experience we can for our customers here,” said Tracy Thompson, AUS chief administrative and external affairs officer. “The biggest improvement about this West Gate Expansion is it will give us space. We definitely need more space in our terminal.”

The airport expansion project will add new amenities and balcony space. (Courtesy Austin-Bergstrom International Airport)

Other Journey With AUS projects that are now underway include:
  • Improvements at TSA checkpoints expected to wrap up this year
  • A new 90,000-square-foot air cargo facility expected to be completed this year
  • A new jet fuel storage facility that will be completed in 2024
  • An upgraded baggage handling system to be completed in 2025
  • The in-progress removal of many older vacant buildings across the facility’s East Austin footprint
Longer-range improvements include a 13,000-square-foot infill of the airport's atrium, and the construction of the future midfield concourse and its connector tunnel.

The existing South Terminal will be shuttered to clear the way for the new 10-gate midfield concourse. The city ended up having to pay $88 million to secure the future South Terminal demolition in a settlement with the facility's operator LoneStar Airport Holdings LLC.