Video and renderings courtesy UrbanARCH with Alliiance
Memphis International Airport (MEM) is embarking on a new plan to modernize and consolidate airline and retail operations in Concourse B.
The multiphase, multiyear plan includes the addition of moving walkways, wider corridors, larger boarding areas, higher ceilings and natural lighting. The plan will consolidate airline, retail and food and beverage operations in Concourse B. Retail and food/beverage options will remain intact in the ticketing area.
The project includes the removal of the south ends of the A and C Concourses to allow for unobstructed access by aircraft to the entire B Concourse.
• Late 2017/Early 2018: Delta Air Lines moves to A, Allegiant moves to C • Early 2018: B Concourse construction begins • Early 2021: Modernized B Concourse opens • Mid-2021: Consolidation completed, end of C removed
Highlights of the Concourse B Modernization
Consolidation of Airlines: Airlines are currently spread out across three concourses, but the modernization project will move all airline operations to Concourse B. While Concourses A and C will be closed, gates will be retained in these areas to accommodate future growth. Until the consolidation, Concourses A and C will remain fully operational.
Consolidation of Retail, Food and Beverage: Retail operations from Concourses A and C will also be consolidated into Concourse B. This will expose vendors to a concentrated flow of passengers and will likewise provide passengers with more shopping and dining options.
Higher Ceilings, Larger Gate Areas, Moving Walkways, and Increased Natural Lighting: The modernized B Concourse will provide passengers with more room to move, additional natural lighting and higher ceilings to create a more open environment. Moving walkways will also help improve the passenger experience. Other features include:
Children’s play area
Stage for live music in Rotunda area
Additional lounge areas
Additional charging stations
Seismic Upgrades: The modernization project will allow MEM to perform needed seismic upgrades to the B Concourse.
October 2017 Update
A Jet Bridge Construction
MEM is working to upgrade jet bridges on the A Concourse to accommodate the arrival of Delta. Southwest Airlines has moved to the end of the A Concourse and will operate on gates A29, A31 and A33. Delta will use gates A17, A19, A21, A23, A25 and A27. Delta is expected to move its operations to the A Concourse in January, with Allegiant moving to the C Concourse. At that point, the B Concourse will be closed for construction.
Work continues to replace the baggage carousels in B baggage, which currently serve Delta and Allegiant passengers. All four baggage carousels will be replaced during the project, with construction taking place on two carousels at a time, leaving two operational to accommodate travelers. The current phase will be completed in November, at which point the airport will begin replacing the remaining two carousels. The current carousels are more than 30 years old, and the project is geared to prepare for the airport’s post-modernization operations, which will result in more airlines utilizing the B baggage area.
Blue Note Café Construction
With the B Concourse set to close for construction, several of MEM’s retail and food tenants will need to relocate in order to serve passengers. The Blue Note Café is currently being repurposed for the relocation of new tenants. The area will house the PGA Tour Golf Store, a Starbucks, and Urban Market (formerly Ciao at the end of the B Concourse).
August 2017 Update
A Better MEM in progress! We are moving forward with our modernization plans by constructing jet bridges on the A Concourse to accommodate Delta’s arrival. These jet bridges will be able to accommodate larger aircraft. We still expect to move Allegiant to the C Concourse and Delta to the A Concourse in late 2017 or early 2018, at which time the B Concourse construction will begin.
Modernization Plan FAQs
Q: How will this benefit passengers? (click for answer)
Airport passengers will benefit in a number of ways from the concourse modernization at Memphis International Airport (MEM). Gates will no longer be spread out across three concourses – for the most part, they will be consolidated into one. A new ground boarding area for commuter airlines will be created on the A Concourse, as well. Travelers will have more access to concessionaires since these businesses will all be located in the B Concourse. There will be more room to move through the widened corridors and larger boarding areas, more lighting from added windows and taller ceilings, and enhanced customer service via the addition of moving walkways. With these improvements, MEM will retain the capacity to expand significantly in the future.
Q: When will this begin?
Part of the modernization project has already begun. The removal of the south end of the A Concourse was completed in 2015. The Southwest and American ticketing counters were moved to the B terminal, and a new outbound baggage system was installed on the west side of the B ticketing lobby. The airport also added new digital displays and flight information systems throughout the airport. TSA’s operations and office areas were relocated from the A Concourse to the B Concourse. The next steps will be to begin jet bridge installation on the A Concourse to accommodate the relocation of Delta Airlines and the systematic replacement of all four large baggage carousels in the B Baggage Lobby. The relocation of airlines to A and C will be the next step which will allow construction on the B Concourse to begin. This relocation is expected to take place in late 2017, and construction on the B Concourse will begin in early 2018.
Q: What’s different about the project since the initial announcement?
Several aspects of the project have changed. First, while the original plan called for renovating and adding on to Concourse B, the updated modernization plan calls for the complete redesign of most of the concourse. The B Concourse will be closed during construction, and airlines and tenants will operate out of the A and C Concourses during that time. The south end of the C Concourse will remain intact until the B Concourse is completed and airlines have moved from C to B. The southwest leg of the B Concourse will be modernized in a future phase, and will only be utilized in the near term for passengers from inbound international flights.
Q: Why aren’t you modernizing the southwest leg of the B Concourse?
There are two primary reasons that the southwest part of the B Concourse will not be modernized: cost and usage. A complete redesign of that part of the concourse would add significantly to the overall project cost, which would be passed on to the airline partners. This would also result in a redesigned area that would not be immediately utilized because there would be more gates than necessary. The current construction plans will allow for 23 gates on B plus two ground boarding gates on A for commuter airlines. It is projected that the modernized portion of the B Concourse will be able to accommodate at least three million enplanements annually. That represents a 50 percent increase over current enplanement totals. However, if passenger growth increased substantially, the Airport Authority would have the ability to modernize the southwest leg of the B Concourse, which could add as many as 15 more gates.
Q: How long will it take? Why?
Moving forward, we estimate that the construction project will take between 3-4 years to complete, due to the numerous phases and the extent of the improvements. During this period, the airport and airlines will continue to maintain normal operations for our travelers, without disruption. By closing the B Concourse during construction, the overall construction time will be reduced. The redesigned B Concourse is projected to open by early 2021.
Q: How much will it cost?
The total construction cost for the B Concourse is expected to be approximately $214 million. Project funding will include state and federal grants, passenger facility charges (PFCs) and other Authority funds. The airport also plans to issue general airport revenue bond debt in order to fund the project. However, this project does not involve any local tax dollars. It is funded entirely by the Airport Authority and its airline partners.
Q: Why is this estimate so much higher than the initial one?
The original estimate only included concourse B construction costs. This updated estimate is an “all-in” total that includes additional design costs and related construction such as jet bridge improvements on the A and C Concourses that are necessary to accommodate additional airline operations.
Q: Is the airport closing A and C concourses?
Eventually, yes. However, during the construction of the modernized B Concourse, all airlines and concessionaires will operate out of the A and C Concourses. Once construction is complete, the airlines and concessionaires will begin relocating to B. Once all the airlines have moved from C to B, the south end of C will be removed to ensure a free flow of aircraft traffic into the east side of the B Concourse. After consolidation, check-in will continue in the A, B and C ticketing areas. You will also still be able to enter and exit through the A and C baggage claim areas.
Q: Will airline services be affected?
No, the airlines will continue to operate normally in terms of ticketing, flights and baggage. The primary change once the project is completed will be that all airline gate operations will be located in the B Concourse, with the exception of commuter airlines, which will operate from a new ground boarding area on the A Concourse. Additionally, baggage claim for all airlines will be in the B Baggage claim. The Airport Authority will continue to update the public on any changes that this relocation creates.
Q: How will the concessionaires be affected?
The retail and restaurant businesses at the airport will benefit from the improved flow of passenger traffic. In addition, the B Concourse will feature new and enhanced retail and food options. In addition, more concession options will be added to A and C to accommodate additional passengers while the B Concourse is closed for construction.
Q: Will there be enough room for future airlines?
Yes. The Airport Authority will continue to relentlessly pursue frequent and affordable air service and will be able to accommodate the addition of future airlines and flights.
Q: Does this mean we won't be a hub again?
Airlines are reducing hubs rather than adding them, making it less likely that MEM will be selected as an airline transfer hub again. However, this project will not inhibit MEM’s ability to serve as a hub should the opportunity arise.