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Business: Reno airport expanding with new ticketing, garage and concourses

By ThisIsReno

By Kristen Hackbarth

Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority CEO Daren Griffin on Tuesday told members of the Washoe Board of County Commissioners that air travel in the region is booming, nearly fully recovered from the pandemic and expected to continue growth into 2023.

The Reno-Tahoe International Airport is projected to have more than 4 million passengers traveling through this year, a slight decline from the 4.5 million in 2019 but far more than both 2020 and 2021. 

In 2023, Griffin said he expects the airport will handle up to 4.7 million passengers.

“We came back a lot faster than a lot of other airports in 2021. Of course leisure travel led that resurgence,” he said. “We started coming back a lot faster than a lot of economists expected.”

Griffin said with booming air traffic and more people moving to the region, the airport will need to expand to handle more passengers, allow for more parking and accommodate a greater range of destinations and carriers.

“People are flying at greater volumes than we’ve ever seen,” he added, noting that people are more able to work remotely. “People have more freedom to travel with work… We see people staying in the parking lots much longer than they used to. It’s creating a lot of challenges for us with infrastructure.” 

He shared details of MoreRNO, an improvement plan for the Reno-Tahoe International Airport that spans the next 18 years and is expected to cost nearly $1 billion. 

“It’s a huge investment in infrastructure, but it won’t get cheaper or easier as we wait,” Griffin said. “If we don’t move this forward right now people in 2030 will be wondering what we were doing because we will be so far behind the curve at that point. A little bit of this is catch-up, a little bit is playing offense, and mostly it’s taking advantage of a great mindset at the federal level right now on the value of infrastructure investment.” 

Expansion of the ticketing area has already begun and will include more indoor space for ticketing kiosks and technology, restrooms and public art. 

Other projects in the works include a new parking garage with rental cars, shuttles and rideshares that Griffin said will be ready in 2025. The project will also add nearly 800 parking spaces to the airport, “which is something we desperately need right now,” he said.

A rendering of the planned car rental, rideshare and transportation building at Reno-Tahoe International Airport planned for completion in 2025. The building will be connected to the terminal by an enclosed walkway.

Security features including bollards in front of the building and additional points of entry and exit in addition to Plumb Lane will also be added.

The biggest project, however, is replacing the existing concourses and their 23 gates, which are more than 40 years old. Griffin said aircraft from 40 years ago held far fewer people than the 737s of today, making for crowded gate areas. 

“We need a lot more space than we have today,” he said. “Forty-two year old buildings are living on infrastructure that needs to be replaced. We did almost a two year analysis and ultimately the best decision here is to tear them down and build two new ones.” 

Design for the concourses hasn’t begun, but the intent is to make them wider and taller with views of the mountains and natural light. Access to outdoor spaces will also be included, which he said is a more recent innovation in airport design. 

Events

Sponsored: The grand opening of the Reno Children’s Center Autism Therapy Services is Nov. 15. The brand Autism service provider offers full-day therapy services for children 2 to 6 and after-school skills groups for children up to age 12. The grand opening is free to attend. Learn more.

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Zandi Salstrom Schlegel

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