PORTLAND — Last decade, Portland International Airport suffered two gut punches, first the 9/11 terrorist attacks and then the economic meltdown that became known as the Great Recession.
The airport has recovered nicely. With today’s burly economy, the airport is now building a series of improvements, PDXNext, that represent a $2 billion investment in the airport’s future.
“We have a significant amount of work in front of us over the next five to seven years,” said Vince Granato, Port of Portland’s chief operating officer. “We are going to be really focused on delivering those projects.”
In 2010, when the economy was still limping, the Port of Portland and other local governments adopted an airport master plan that projected a 2.3 percent annual growth rate and 27 million annual passengers by 2035.
Although passenger growth in recent years has topped forecasts, PDX managers say the 2010 plan has been remarkably accurate as they work to enhance airport operations.
“A lot of what’s happening now with PDXNext is accommodating the passengers of the future,” said Kama Simonds, the Port of Portland’s aviation media relations manager.
Barring another economic crash or a big spike in fuel costs, PDX should easily break the 20-million-passenger threshold for the first time this year.
Flexibility for future
The terminal, which opened in 1958, has received assorted improvements over the years. Granato said it needs a major face-lift to provide flexibility for future needs.
“It is not really designed for how the traveling public goes through an airport anymore,” he said.
All construction will be done to meet growth projections while the airport moves 50,000 or more passengers a day.