Nov. 10, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) and its construction partners, Whiting-Turner and Siemens Logistics celebrated the start of delivery and installation of the new outbound baggage handling system. After processing outbound passenger bags for over twenty years, the baggage handling system at AUS is being replaced with an upgraded system to meet modern industry standards. This project joins other projects that will improve and modernize AUS through the multi-year Journey With AUS airport improvement program.
“The record-breaking passenger growth AUS has experienced this year has been transformative,” said Gina Fiandaca, assistant city manager of the SD23 Mobility Outcome. “Today we celebrate this momentous project milestone after roughly five years of pre-design, design and enabling work to get us to this point. This project is a great example of how the airport is not only expanding and growing the terminal’s footprint, but investing in and improving existing facilities, which is critical as our airport continues to meet the needs of traveling Austinites.”
The outbound baggage handling system is the network of equipment that checked luggage travels through as it makes its way to the aircraft and through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) after it’s checked in at an airline ticket counter. Through this project, improvements will deliver a more efficient, reliable, and easy to use system for airlines processing baggage for departing flights. The addition of conveyor belts, increased square footage and reconfiguration of new and existing belts will increase output by 800 more bags processed in the near-term, eventually processing up to 4,000 bags per hour once the system is completed. Not only will the new system increase capacity to screen more bags, but it will also bring redundancy to the system, creating a more reliable operation.
“As AUS continues to accommodate the growing, unprecedented demand for travel, we’re thrilled to launch one of our first projects under our Journey with AUS airport improvement program,” said Jacqueline Yaft, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport chief executive officer. “The outbound baggage handling system is critical for sustaining passenger growth and will increase reliability, improve the flow of airport operations and in turn, create a better experience for passengers at AUS. This is just one of many investments we have planned for our airport in the coming years.”
Under the direction of the AUS Project Management team and in partnership with contractors Whiting- Turner, Siemens Logistics, AECOM and Gensler and with City of Austin Public Works Department, Capital Contracting Office, Development Services Department, and the Small & Minority Business Resource Office, the initial design-build agreement was finalized and approved in October 2019.
Preparation and pre-construction has been ongoing since December 2021, when tenant relocation and reconfiguration of the existing space began. This project will create new terminal square feet to house the new system, which will present opportunities for the airport to expand TSA Checkpoint 3. The initial part of the new system is anticipated to being processing bags in late 2024.