The San Antonio International Airport will receive $4.6 million from the Federal Aviation Administration to demolish an “old and deteriorating” taxiway and build a new one that meets modern standards, airport officials said Wednesday.
The grant is one of hundreds that the FAA announced Tuesday as part of its annual Airport Improvement Program (AIP). This year, $477 million in grants for infrastructure projects will be distributed across the U.S.
The new taxiway will span 750 feet to connect airport tenants at the southeast corner of the airfield – private fliers and other non-commercial tenants – to a nearby runway. To comply with FAA standards, it will be wider and further away from planes that land on the runway, said Russ Handy, director of the City’s Aviation Department.
Construction could start later this year or early 2020, Handy estimated, and will have “very low visibility for your everyday traveler.”
The grant is part of a multi-year improvement program for the airport, Handy said, which was approved by City Council this summer and will be funded through various sources. Handy said he expects another $6.5 million will come soon from the FAA to fund another taxiway.
While San Antonio receives routine funding from the FAA, these types of grants are competitive, he said. “This is a project they see value in,” he said of federal officials.
Two other Texas airports also received FAA grants for infrastructure improvements, including Tyler Pounds Regional Airport in Tyler ($100,000) and Fort Worth Alliance Airport ($8 million). The largest Texan allocation through the AIP program so far this year was $50 million for the Texas Department of Transportation through the FAA’s State Block Grant Program, which allows the department to assume responsibility for AIP grants for “nonprimary commercial service, reliever, and general aviation airports,” according to the FAA’s website. Click here to see the full list of year-to-date AIP grant allocations.
San Antonio’s airport hosted more than 10 million passengers in 2018, a record-breaking year. But earlier this year, Air Canada canceled its much-heralded nonstop service between San Antonio and Toronto that began in 2017. Frontier Airlines also withdrew more than a dozen routes in San Antonio.
Meanwhile, the City and local business leaders are developing a multimillion-dollar airport expansion plan to accommodate the future city’s air travel demands.
The grant received Tuesday was not considered to be impacted by a federal investigation of City Council’s vote to remove Chick-fil-A from an airport concessions contract, Handy said. The City paused nearly $14 million in grants in May until a better scope of the investigation by the FAA’s Office of Civil Rights emerged.
The FAA’s guidance, in this case, he said, “is don’t slow down anything you’re doing.”