San Antonio International Unveils Initial Design For New Terminal

The Texas airport's expansion project is expected to add up to 17 boarding gates.

Credit: San Antonio Airport System
A rendering of the planned new check-in hall at San Antonio International Airport.

The San Antonio City Council was presented with preliminary design renderings for the planned new San Antonio International Airport (SAT) terminal slated to be completed in 2028.

The terminal is part of an estimated $2.5 billion expansion project at the Texas airport; a final cost has not been established. The design plans presented by the San Antonio Airport System (SAAS), which manages SAT, and architecture firm Corgan at a Feb. 15 council hearing revealed details of the planned terminal and other airport upgrades, though design work is still underway and specifics are not final.

According to SAT, the terminal will be more than 850,000 ft.2, making it larger than the airport’s existing two terminals combined. The design plan includes up to a 17-gate expansion, “six of which will be able to accommodate both domestic and widebody international flights,” the airport says.

The new terminal will feature approximately 41,000 ft.2 of new concessions space—the airport now has 24,000 ft.2 reserved for concessions. There will also be more than 29,000 ft.2 of available lounge space. The project will additionally include landside roadway improvements.

The airport says the expansion should enable it to attract more international service. SAT Director Jesus Saenz told Aviation Week Network at the Routes Americas 2022 conference in San Antonio that SAT is seeking to “exponentially grow our international footprint with a heavy emphasis on Mexico, Latin America, Central America and the Caribbean, and then with hopes of moving toward Europe.”

As of December 2022, all five international routes operated from SAT go to Mexico.

Speaking Feb. 15 about the preliminary design, Saenz said a final design is not expected to be completed until the end of 2023. “If all goes to plan, we’ll put shovels in the ground around this time next year,” he said. “When people step off a plane at SAT, there will be no question where they’ve arrived. The thoughtful way nature is being incorporated into the design will make them feel welcomed and their experience getting through the airport will be even easier than it is now.”

San Antonio City Manager Erik Walsh calls the expansion the “most important capital project in San Antonio’s history,” adding: “A modern, vibrant airport makes travel easier for our residents, while also streamlining business travel and attracting more tourism to San Antonio. This modernization of our airport is essential as we expand and add new air service options.”

SAT's traffic levels were 91.3% of 2019 levels in 2022, according to the airport. Southwest Airlines is SAT's leading domestic carrier with a 36.2% domestic market share in terms of domestic passengers carried in December 2022. Mexico's VivaAerobus was SAT's international market share leader in December 2022 at 39.5%.

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