SPRINGFIELD, MO — With demand for commercial air service outpacing operational capacity, leading to longer waits in ticketing, baggage, and security, Springfield-Branson National Airport’s (SGF) 44-year old terminal has been retired from its traditional role, making way for the new $117 million Midfield Terminal. Brimming with aesthetic appeal, the new facility abandons the linear layout of its predecessor with wide-open areas designed to ease passenger navigation and enhance operational efficiency.
The airport master plan called for a new terminal complex once the airport saw a maximum capacity of 880,000 passengers; a mark attained in 2005. According to Springfield National’s director of aviation Gary Cyr, 2001 marked a shift in the type of aircraft the airport received. A terminal area study plan conducted in 1999 suggested the airport would see larger and fewer planes; yet two years later, a trend emerged contradicting the study plan.
“Commissioned by the FAA, the terminal area study plan analyzed our existing structure, inventoried everything we had, and looked at the future with a growth rate analysis,” says Cyr. “The analysis came back stating that there should be a new terminal in place in 2016.
“Counter to that, in 2001-2002, we began seeing smaller aircraft, and twice as many of them; that created a different motivation factor as the old terminal was inundated with more aircraft.”
In November 2003, the airport board, an eleven-member organization appointed by the City of Springfield, signed a contract with facilities consulting firm Reynolds, Smith & Hills for conceptual and schematic design of a new Midfield Terminal.
Out with the old
A new terminal was needed for many reasons, says Cyr, but the primary motivation was economic development. The previous facility was constricted to the point where terminal expansion would have made airport operations even less efficient. Land-locked by runways to the west and two major industrial companies to the east, a new terminal location was deemed necessary.
The former structure was long and linear; more than 1,000-feet in length. Adding to that would have been very impractical, says Cyr. “We initiated a cost-benefit analysis for modifying the old facility versus building new, and there was a 20 percent difference; we were money ahead to build new.”
Security screening of passengers and baggage also came into play. The old facility was never designed to house the type of security operations required at airports today, says Cyr. The passenger screening station was confined between the lobby and gate entrances, and baggage screening took place in small rooms once used by airline administration. The space constrictions made the ability to move passengers in and out in an efficient manner increasingly burdensome, further verifying the facility’s inadequacies.
Space was not only constricted within the terminal, but outside as well. A shortage of gates contributed to morning aircraft congestion due to an increasing number of jetliners that park at the airport overnight, relates Cyr.
Terminal Finance Plan
The finance plan was developed in 2003, and construction on the 275,000-square foot facility began in 2006. The airport borrowed $97 million in revenue bond issues, and another $20 million was attained through discretionary federal aviation funds. The total cost of the project came to $116.9 million; and the airport maintained that budget throughout the construction process, says Cyr.
“We went out for a bond issue through the public building corporation in conjunction with the city,” says Cyr. “It’s backed by our debt service plan, and ultimately backed by the City of Springfield.”
The debt service plan is conservative, explains Cyr, and comes from airport revenue, passenger facility charges, and annual Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds. The plan strives to make annual payments that are 1.5 times the amount required. According to Cyr, even if passenger numbers drop 15 percent for 12 consecutive months, debt service can be maintained at 1.25 times.
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