BOISE — The Boise Airport, the largest in the state, broke its record for passenger travel in 2019 with 4.1 million passengers.
New flights continue to be added, including a direct connection to the East Coast in Atlanta. But just like the rest of the transportation network in and around the Treasure Valley, the exponential growth means new infrastructure is needed at the airport.
The Boise Airport is in the early stages of a $150 million expansion plan to increase capacity in the terminal and the parking areas around the airport by late 2023. This multistage plan will accommodate travelers with more parking, as well as a new concourse for airplanes to park and provide more flights.
Boise Airport Director Rebecca Hupp joined the airport in 2012, when flights had been cut down to extreme lows by the airlines following the Great Recession. Hupp said since she started running the airport the passenger numbers have been steadily climbing as the economy recovered, but the growth in passengers has exploded in recent years.
“It’s interesting because I think here in Boise and in our community and at the airport we compare ourselves to ourselves, so this seems very normal to us,” Hupp said. “It’s not until we start to have conversations with our peers in other places and with airlines about what they’re doing in other places and we take a step back and realize this is actually something special that’s happening in Boise.”
The airport does not yet need a new runway to accommodate additional air traffic, but parking lots and the terminal are bursting at the seams. In 2013, the airport built a new parking garage Hupp said was expected to last “at least” 10 years, but that garage is not enough to meet demand.
Starting this year, the airport will expand one of its economy parking areas by paving a gravel lot and adding 250 parking spaces during peak times. Construction also will begin on a 700-stall employee parking garage. Later another five-level, 1,300-space public parking garage will be built east of the existing parking structure.
Other improvements will include a new rental car garage and lobby area and a new concourse with room for six aircraft. After the new concourse is built, the existing one will be renovated.
New flights keep coming to Boise as well. Starting in July, Delta passengers will be able to fly directly from Boise to Atlanta every day. Other new flights include twice-daily service to Los Angeles and an additional flight to San Diego on Alaska Airlines starting in March, as well as additional Southwest Airlines flights to Denver, San Jose and Sacramento. There will also be a new Southwest Airlines flight from Boise to Phoenix on weekends.
“Every time (airlines) have added capacity in the Boise market, the market has responded by filling those seats,” Hupp said. “Airlines continually want to continue adding capacity in our market. They had cut so far back we weren’t meeting demand, but because we are in a growth mode in the valley, we are seeing an increase at the airport.”