UPDATE: March 3, 2021: After pressing pause twice within the last year, San Francisco International Airport has indefinitely delayed plans for the $1 billion expansion and renovation of Terminal 3. The most recent change to the T3 West project was announced at a recent board of supervisors’ budget and finance committee meeting. The project was first delayed for six months in April and again in October.
The airport’s 10-year expansion began in 2019, and it's uncertain how long this will delay the overall plans for the project. However, it will depend on some kind of return to normalcy in air travel, as the airport’s passenger numbers dropped by 71.4% and revenue dropped by 22% last year, forcing it to cut $136 million in expenses by deferring construction projects among other things, according to a report by the San Francisco Examiner.
- San Francisco International Airport will postpone more than 20 construction projects in order to defer $550 million in debt service as passenger activity continues to crater during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The final phase of Harvey Milk Terminal 1 and new North Check-In lobby area will be postponed by at least six months, along with interior mixed-use offices that are a part of the airport’s Courtyard 3 Connector project, SFO announced in a release.
- These new delays follow the six-month deferment of the $1 billion Terminal 3 West project that was announced in April, and was extended for at least another six months in October, according to the statement.
The additional work stoppages at SFO, the country’s seventh busiest airport, are the latest in a string of shutdowns at construction projects that were underway across the country, as new daily COVID-19 cases skyrocketed past 145,000 and hospitalizations hit 60,000 nationally this week, both all-time highs.
In October, plans were put on hold for a $9.4 billion petrochemical plant in Louisiana, while manufacturer Foxconn pulled back from starting to build an announced $10 billion factory in Wisconsin.
Those shutterings followed the stop of construction of a movie theater and concert venue after foundation excavation was completed at the $1 billion Nashville Yards, effectively leaving an gaping hole in the middle of America’s 24th largest city.
And in the first week of November, construction on the second tower of the $1.6 billion Oceanwide Center project, also in San Francisco, was stopped due to the impacts of COVID-19 as well.
SFO’s new woes come as Americans continue to decide against air travel and its enclosed, confined spaces, which medical experts say represent the types of environments where COVID-19 is most easily spread.
The Transportation Security Administration has only screened more than 1 million daily passengers nationally once, on Oct. 18, since the pandemic began. In 2019, more between 2 million and 2.5 million passengers routinely passed through the country’s airports every day. It hit a low of 87,000 April 14.
That drop in passengers, and the resulting revenue losses, has led to construction stopping at a number of airports across the country, including ones at Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago O’Hare and Orlando.
But even with the virus surging and winter on its way, there are bright spots. Turner-Flatiron announced the awarding of a $2.27 billion contract at San Diego International Airport in September, with construction scheduled to begin in late 2021.