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June 15th 2023 | Written By Press Release | Share

Ford International Airport Unveils Newly Expanded Concourse A

Ford International Airport Unveils Newly Expanded Concourse A

Phase 1 Expansion Features Eight New Gates to Accommodate Larger Aircraft, New Concession and Retail Concepts, Greater Variety of Seating Options and More

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., June 15, 2023 – The Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority announced the completion of Phase 1 of its newly expanded Concourse A, part of a $110 million project to accommodate passenger growth.

Concourse A Phase I, which will open to the public June 16 and primarily serve guests flying American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, added:

  • Eight new gates for a total of 14
  • Expanded gate space areas to accommodate larger size aircraft
  • New concession and retail concepts
  • A greater variety of seating options
  • A new companion care restroom which includes an adult changing table

The expansion is part of the ELEVATE program, which is designating more than $500 million in critical infrastructure investments to improve the guest experience while positioning the Airport for continued growth. The Concourse A project created more than 125 new construction jobs and added more than 155,000 square feet of space to Michigan’s second largest airport.

“We are delighted to celebrate this significant milestone in the monumental transformation of our state-of-the-art Concourse A,” said Airport Authority President and CEO Tory Richardson. “This investment positions us for our anticipated passenger growth trajectory for the next two decades – and ensures we continue to deliver a world-class experience as West Michigan’s gateway to the world.”

Exterior View, © Peter McCullough Photo + Drone
Interior 3, © Peter McCullough Photo + Drone
Interior 2, © Peter McCullough Photo + Drone
Interior 1, © Peter McCullough Photo + Drone
Gate Space, © Peter McCullough Photo + Drone

Photos courtesy of © Peter McCullough Photo + Drone

The Airport has partnered with several businesses on the expansion as part of its efforts for the concourse to reflect the look, feel and culture of West Michigan.

The Airport selected Paradies Lagardère as its partner to oversee the new concession and retail concepts in the new Concourse A extension that features many local businesses. New concession concepts include a beer garden known as Aletitude, Freddy’s, Uccello’s Ristorante, Blue Bridge Market space, which will feature local cuisine from Madcap Coffee Company and Nantucket Bakery, and a news and gifts stand called Thornapple Essentials.

To furnish the space, Haworth, MillerKnoll and Steelcase all supplied contemporary pieces to provide travelers with a greater variety of seating options.

The Airport will now transition to Phase 2 of the project, which will close the gates of the existing portion of Concourse A to undergo widening and renovations, add a second-level executive lounge and additional amenities for passengers. It is expected Phase 2 will be completed in 2024.

The new executive lounge on an elevated level overlooking Concourse A will cater to the needs of business travelers, putting the Airport on  par with larger airports, including Chicago, Boston and Atlanta.

The Christman Company serves as general contractor for Concourse A while Mead & Hunt is the design project manager and HKS is the architect of record. More than 30 West Michigan subcontractors brought their expertise and local suppliers to the project.

As it prepared to design the expansion, HKS led a visioning session with Airport stakeholders to ensure the principal concepts of community and the physical attributes of West Michigan were brought into the space. Architect Jorge Barrero likened the journey of walking the length of the new concourse to exploring West Michigan and its many offerings. 

Local artists played a key role in Concourse A’s design providing a sense of place and showcasing the strong regional talent. The extension will feature three art mediums, including custom terrazzo flooring, a suspended art installation and wall art. The four artists selected to feature permanent terrazzo designs include:

  • George Eberhardt III
  • Kim Nguyen
  • Maureen Nollette
  • Michael Pfleghaar

The suspended art installation and multiple wall art locations will be added to Concourse A during Phase 2.

“The Airport is the first view guests see when they come into town and the last moment they’ll remember when they leave so we worked hard to create a concourse that reflects the spirit of our community coupled with the hospitality we’re known for,” Richardson said. 

Interior 7, © Peter McCullough Photo + Drone
Interior 4, © Peter McCullough Photo + Drone
Interior 5, © Peter McCullough Photo + Drone
Interior 6, © Peter McCullough Photo + Drone-1

Photos courtesy of © Peter McCullough Photo + Drone

Plans for additional infrastructure improvements under the ELEVATE program are also underway, including:

  • The addition of a federal inspection station, or FIS, which will enable the Airport to offer nonstop international commercial passenger flights. This project was announced in August 2019, and the first phase – the addition of a new baggage claim area, restrooms and operations infrastructure – has been completed. These enhancements are being used for domestic flights until the full FIS project is complete.
  • The relocation of the current air traffic control tower, or ATCT, to make way for diverse terminal-area developments such as additional tenant hangars and more parking. The Airport selected a new site, which was reviewed and approved virtually by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2021 – the first-ever such virtual sighting of an ATCT. With the site plan complete, efforts now transition to the design phase in 2023.
  • A  consolidated rental car facility, or CONRAC, with an enclosed walkway from the terminal that will offer additional transportation accommodations to travelers visiting West Michigan. This project broke ground in May 2023 with an expected completion date in 2025.
  • Additional parking capacity to accommodate increased guest traffic.
  • Proposed plans to expand the terminal to accommodate a new checked baggage inspection system, or CBIS, which will streamline the post-ticket counter journey for baggage, decrease processing time and increase capacity.

Thanks to support from U.S. DOT's Airport Terminal Grant Program, made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Airport received more than $8.6 million for the integration of eight new passenger boarding bridges on the newly designated gate spaces.

“This project would not have been made possible without the support of local, state and national leadership, as well as our airline partners,” Richardson said. “This is an exciting day for our community as we unveil the next generation of air travel in West Michigan.”

No local taxpayer dollars are being used to finance any of the projects included in the ELEVATE program, which will be paid for with a combination of federal and state grants, municipal bonds issued by the Airport and user fees.

About the Gerald R. Ford International Airport

The Gerald R. Ford International Airport is the second busiest airport in Michigan, serving business and leisure travelers with nonstop and connecting flights on six airlines. The Ford International Airport is managed and operated by the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority. For more information, visit www.flyford.org or follow the airport on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram @FlyGRFord.

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Topics: Press Release, Community