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SFO to get $31M from Biden administration for airport improvement

A security checkpoint as people wait in line and TSA agents checking boarding passes and id's.
Crowds navigate the SFO Terminal 2 security line on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. | Source: Morgan Ellis/The Standard

The Biden administration said Thursday it is providing $970 million for improvements at 114 airports around the country, with work ranging from wider concourses and new baggage-handling systems to new terminals at some small airfields.

San Francisco International Airport will get $31 million. This award will replace "fans, dampers, actuators, control valves, sensors, and other associated elements" of the heating and air conditioning system at the International Terminal. "Replacing these components will improve fire-life safety compliance, reduce energy usage, reduce maintenance costs, and improve resilience," the administration said in a statement.

Administration officials said the money comes from a $5 billion grant program to modernize airport terminals.

The largest sum, $50 million, will go to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida for a project to connect terminals behind the security checkpoints and provide new retail space and other amenities.

O'Hare International Airport in Chicago will get $40 million to widen a concourse, reconfigure a security checkpoint and make other changes. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia, Los Angeles International will receive $31 million.

A Federal Aviation Administration official said there were more than 600 applications and requests totaled $14 billion.

The administration has gone to great lengths to promote new and proposed protections for air travelers—seeing airlines as an easy target of consumer frustration.

President Joe Biden has railed against fees that some airlines charge to let families sit together. The Transportation Department published an online “dashboard” to prod airlines to commit to improving customer service.

“Another part of that better travel experience is to invest in our physical infrastructure, to improve the airports,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in discussing the airport grants with reporters.

Last month, the Transportation Department announced $244 million in grants for improvements to other airport facilities, including runways and taxiways.

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