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Airport Board approves maximum price of $2.6 billion for Terminal 1 project

Terminal 1 at San Diego International Airport is shown in this undated conceptional rendering.
San Diego International Airport
Terminal 1 at San Diego International Airport is shown in this undated conceptional rendering.

The San Diego County Regional Airport Board of Directors Thursday unanimously approved the master project schedule and maximum contract price of $2.6 billion for the design and construction of a new airport terminal at San Diego International Airport to replace the existing Terminal 1.

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Only one remaining authorization is needed to begin construction: completion of the Federal Aviation Administration's National Environmental Policy Act process.


The county board anticipates the FAA will complete its NEPA review of the project later this month and, if so, construction could begin as early as November.

"The airport is a major economic driver for the region and the New T1 will make our city more attractive to the millions of people who want to visit and also provide a better travel experience for San Diegans," said Gil Cabrera, board chair.

"This project will provide well-paying jobs and numerous contracting opportunities that will aid in the region's economic recovery.

As the airport's only terminal when it was built in 1967, Terminal 1 served 2.5 million passengers in its first year. In 2019, the same terminal served more than 12 million passengers.

"Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Airport Authority has carefully and cautiously continued planning for the replacement of our existing, 54-year-old Terminal 1," said Kimberly Becker, airport authority president and CEO.


"The new T1 will provide the customer experience people expect from San Diego by developing a terminal that is modern, efficient and built to serve the thousands of passengers expected over the next several years."

The new terminal is planned to offer 30 gates, a selection of food and beverage vendors, news, gifts and retail concessions, as well as more security checkpoint lanes. It also is intended to include improvements to the airport's roadways system to make it easier for all traffic to enter and exit the airport and a parking plaza that will handle several ground transportation services.

If all goes as planned, the first 19 gates are expected to be operational in July 2025, and then the construction of the remaining 11 gates will begin that same month. The project is expected to be completed in June 2028.

The project is estimated to create between 15,000 to 20,000 jobs for local workers, the authority claims. Through the Airport Authority's Small Business Development program, 25% of the awarded contract value will go to small business enterprises, 80% will go to local businesses, and 3% to veteran- owned small businesses.

Additionally, the authority has set aside space between the terminals for a transit station that could connect to a prospective transit project chosen by regional transportation planning agencies.

The Airport Authority plans in late November to launch an all-electric shuttle fleet that will carry transit riders from the Old Town Transit Center to the airport and back.