PHOENIX — Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport will soon be using bi-partisan federal infrastructure dollars to complete a major runway project.
At the same time, the Federal Aviation Administration began its own study at the airport looking to improve flight paths this month.
Sky Harbor is looking to add an additional taxiway to the west end of their three runways.
Currently there's only one taxiway located on the east side, visible from the Sky Train.
Airport spokesperson Greg Roybal says the need for an another taxiway is crystal clear.
"Oh, improved efficiency for the aircraft," Roybal said. "Instead of having to go to one place and wait in line, they now have another route," he said.
Roybal says a project like this is desperately needed now that traffic through the airport is beginning to pick back up.
"Increases capacity," Roybal said, as another reason Sky Harbor could use an additional taxiway. "Sky Harbor is been getting busier and busier and growing a little bit more," he said.
"We're about to open a new concourse later on this year, and with eight more gates, that means more planes and more airlines to fly, so another taxiway increases that capacity," he added.
"2019 was our best year ever. It was our record year," Roybal continued. "In 2022 we are seeing numbers probably within 5%, and in some cases 10% of our record traffic. Anytime you're getting close to a record traffic year, you're doing pretty well. You're pretty busy."
Roybal says the project will cost $260 million. $194 million coming from the bi-partisan federal infrastructure bill passed by congress last year.
"The rest of that cost we made up through airport revenue and airport facility charges," Roybal said. "No local tax dollars would be used for this," he said.
Roybal says the project is currently in the design phase, but should get underway within the next few years. It's still unclear what affect if any the construction will have on people driving to the airport, but said it shouldn't be any more of an inconvenience than some of the current construction going on at the airport.
"We know how to do construction and still serve 45, 46 million passengers a year," he said.
Meanwhile, the FAA this month, launched a study at Sky Harbor looking into ways to improve flight paths coming in and out of the airport.
The FAA posting the following statement on its webpage:
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regularly evaluates air traffic control procedures nationwide to make the world's safest air transportation system even safer and more efficient. As part of this, we are considering possible changes to routes that serve Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
The FAA will convene a working group the first week of May 2022 to study the possible changes. We are committed to a transparent process and will keep local communities, airports, and elected officials updated on the status of our efforts.
The FAA has not yet developed any draft proposals or a project timeline. We will develop a project timeline after the working group convenes, which includes the FAA and National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) personnel. Communities around the airport will be able to comment on draft proposals during the required environmental review process. We anticipate that implementing any new procedures would take at least two years, depending on the scope of the project.
The FAA also sent invitations to PHX airport representatives and airport users. The working group leaders may add additional subject matter experts, including from other local airports, to address issues that arise during the study process.
Any changes would be new actions that are not pursuant to the previously completed Implementation Agreement between the FAA, the City of Phoenix, and Historic Neighborhood Petitioners.