Nearly $140 million in improvements coming to El Paso airport

EL PASO, Texas - Nearly $140 million for improvements to the El Paso International Airport were approved by the City on Tuesday.  The projects have already started and will continue for the next five years, an airport spokeswoman said.

The most expensive project will be the new construction of a $45 million rental car facility.  The structure will be connected to the baggage-claim area and allow for passengers to deboard a flight, pick up their luggage and get into a rental car in the garage without having to walk outside of the airport.  The facility's construction is expected to be complete by the end of 2015 and open for use by February 2016.

"We really are the gateway to the city," El Paso Airport director of aviation Monica Lombrana said. "So we want to leave people with a good impression of El Paso and of our airport. We want it to be convenient for them and we want them to have nice facilities to use."

The second most expensive project will be the reconstruction of runway 4-22.  Runways throughout the airfield have already begun the transition of moving from asphalt to concrete.  The transition for 4-22 will cost upwards of $16 million.

Improvement projects also include new baggage claim carousels, expected to cost nearly $3 million, as well as new bathrooms for concourse A, with a price tag of around $1.1 million.

Lombrana says the new bathrooms were added in anticipation of a merger between US Airways and American Airlines.  American Airlines is located on concourse A and US Airways currently on concourse B.  Should the airlines merge, US Airways would be moved to concourse A and would need additional facilities which would include new convenience locations as well.

The $139 million improvement budget is paid through a combination of funding from Federal Aviation Administration grants, passenger facility charge fees, customer facility charge fees, and through the airport enterprise fund.

The funding for the airport and its improvements are not funded by El Paso property tax-payer dollars, Lombrana said

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