While airplane cabins might seem like they’re getting smaller, the airports they’re taking off from are flying high with a bigger is better approach. As record numbers of passengers take to the sky, aging airports across the globe are in dire need of a facelift, sometimes a complete rebuild. Last year’s overhauls saw the world’s top-rated airport Singapore-Changi add a five-story indoor waterfall between its transit hubs. New Orleans jazzed up passengers with the opening of its ultramodern terminal. For flyers yearning for a better airport experience, 2020 has even more in store.
Here are six of the newest airports and terminals set to wow passengers this year.
Salt Lake City International (SLC)
As one of Delta Air Lines premier western hubs, Salt Lake City International (SLC) has seen substantial growth since its original construction over 50 years ago. And to accommodate the added influx of passengers and air traffic, this September the reimagined airport will show off its shine following 3-years of construction. Unlike most airports that add tweaks and terminals piecemeal, Salt Lake opted for a total rebuild, making the airport “the only truly new 21st- century airport in the U.S." according to Billy Wyatt, the Executive Director of SLC’s Department of Airports. Costing $4 billion, SLC travelers can expect state of the art sustainability, eliminated traffic bottlenecks, up-to-code earthquake-proofing standards, and improved food and shopping experiences at SLC's brand new main terminal and north and south concourses.
Bermuda L. F. Wade International (BDA)
Passengers won’t get lost along the way to Bermuda once the tiny Atlantic island’s newly constructed airport opens this July. Construction has taken place on current airport property away from the existing terminal, allowing for an overnight handover once the lights switch-on this summer. Bermudian architectural elements will be a common theme with walls designed to look like coral reefs, vibrant paintings, and dangling kites that bring an airy impression to the terminal. U.S. passport holders are also in luck with streamlined check-in areas and an immigration pre-clearance facility allowing them to skip long lines when arriving back stateside. As one of the biggest building projects the overseas territory has undertaken, the new L.F. Wade International Airport (BDA) will house more restaurants, shops, and amenities than its predecessor, with room to expand from six jetways up to 11 in the future.
Berlin Brandenburg (BER)
Is the ongoing national nightmare that is the building of Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport (BER) going to come to an end in 2020? Originally slated to open back in 2011, the German airport has suffered almost every construction hiccup imaginable. From failed fire safety systems to the installation of miles worth of the wrong cables, the airport's initial building estimate of €2 billion has
ballooned zeppelined well over four times that amount. With so many opening dates come and gone—2012, 2015, 2018—it’s no surprise the latest October 31, 2020 projection has many locals rolling their eyes. But if everything does click into place this fall, Berlin flyers will finally get the state-of-the-art airport they’ve been staring at across the Schönefeld tarmac for almost a decade.
Abu Dhabi Midfield Terminal (AUH)
Another project that has gone well past its “best-by date”– Abu Dhabi’s Midfield Terminal (AUH) should see its first passengers in 2020, several years beyond its initial 2017 scheduled opening. Although the exact date has yet to be announced, the final stages of testing and commissioning are currently undergoing vetting, so a Q3 or Q4 target is the most likely scenario. Once opened, the futuristic X-shaped structure will have 65 aircraft gates and the capacity to handle 45 million passengers annually. Of course, no Middle-Eastern airport would be complete without an array of duty-free shops and lounges making the Midfield Terminal “a stunning ‘destination airport’ in its own right and a unique selling point for airlines considering us for future operations,” according to Bryan Thompson, CEO of Abu Dhabi Airports.
Manchester Terminal 2 (MAN)
Looking for an upgrade? You might not get one onboard your flight, but if you’re traveling through Manchester’s Terminal 2 this summer, you might notice things looking more spruced up. The first phase of the terminal’s £1 billion overhaul should be finished by July, with new departure/arrival halls, security screening area, and immigration facility all getting a complete remake. A huge honeycomb light feature, a salute to the city’s worker bee symbol will hover above passengers on their way to the departure gates. And once in the departure hall, flyers have two levels of restaurants and shops with runway views to spread out in while they wait for their flights. But this year's expansion is only the start. Enhancements will continue through 2022, culminating into a "super terminal," providing the UK's most modern airport experience at England's gateway to the north.
Bahrain International (BAH)
In a region known for its flashy airports, Bahrain International (BAH) is ready for its close-up in 2020. The new $1.1 billion passenger terminal is set to open its doors this March, following one of the most extensive construction efforts put forth by the Gulf nation. Home-base to aptly named Gulf Air, Bahrain's new terminus plans to boost passenger numbers up to 14 million per year. At nearly four times larger than the previous airport, 104 check-in counters and 36 passport control stations, and an automated baggage handling system will alleviate backups and improve passenger experience.