San Antonio International Airport (SAT), a critical part of our economy, leaves an important impression for our city on nearly 8.4 million local and visiting travelers each year. So, a vibrant airport means a thriving San Antonio. To meet that challenge, you will soon see that we are laying the groundwork: the City’s Aviation Department, led by Frank Miller, has made great strides to strengthen our airport and improve the overall passenger experience.
A key goal of the Aviation Department is to add more direct flights between San Antonio and high-traffic U.S. and international cities. Through close work with airlines, local chambers of commerce and governments, and by leveraging the region’s Air Service Development Incentive Program, we’ve seen the list of nonstop destinations grow with the recent addition of daily flights to New Orleans, Miami, and Cancun. Our next targets are Boston Logan Airport and Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C., along with destinations in Europe.
As I’ve written before, the addition of nonstop flights to and from our airport raises San Antonio’s national and international standing as a center of culture and commerce. That benefits every resident because it pays dividends for our economy and our quality of life.
Better Parking for All and Consolidated Rental Car Facility (CONRAC) for Visitors
In order to garner high-profile destinations, we need an airport to match. With increased air traffic, our airport must have the infrastructure necessary to handle a growing number of travelers and provide them with the best experience possible. One way the City is tackling this challenge is by upgrading parking facilities and by consolidating rental car locations into a single stop within walking distance of the air terminals..
In June, City Council approved the construction of the Consolidated Rental Car Facility, or CONRAC. This seven-floor garage will provide rental car companies with 3,100 parking spaces for their vehicles and will also include two floors of short-term public parking, replacing the existing short-term garage and surface parking. A pedestrian skybridge will connect the facilityto both terminals and allow passengers to easily access the garage from their flights.
The existing short-term parking garage closed for construction on July 15, and the entire CONRAC project is expected to be completed in March 2018. The project will cost $163 million and is funded entirely by the Customer Facility Charge, paid for by customers renting a vehicle at the airport.
Traffic and parking issues
But I bet you read the previous paragraph more than once. Yes, the improvements will mark great progress for San Antonio International. However, with such growth comes growing pains. With CONRAC construction underway, traffic and parking at the airport will require more time to navigate and much more patience to endure. Expect some construction detours, a farther walk, and perhaps some delays. Until the public parking section of the CONRAC opens in 2018, visitors will use the existing long-term parking garage or the overflow surface lot at the intersection of Airport Boulevard and Dee Howard Way (see an interactive parking map). This is all temporary and well worth the wait, but be sure to plan ahead when flying.
And when the dust clears, we will all be glad that the San Antonio International Airport and the City of San Antonio is ready to compete for decades to come.
What do you think? What has been your experience at airports in San Antonio and elsewhere? What would you do to improve the travel and benefit visitors and residents alike? Join the discussion!
The airline business is tough. Route planning departments need 65% to 70% minimum loads to keep a route and City of Austin is subsidizing that route for 2 years. BTW it is to London (British Airways)