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New Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport terminal may not break ground until 2032

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport plans to build a new terminal on the airport’s west side, close to where former Terminals 1 and 2 were located before being demolished.

Construction isn’t expected to begin until 2032 because the FAA’s environmental process will take about five years, followed by design work.

“I would much rather do it now in a kind of a phased approach, we can always slow down that process if our airlines, or any other entity, or we have a, you know another industry event that slows down our growth, for whatever reason, we can always pause, but we can't’ get that time back,” Aviation Director Chad Makovsky told the City Council Tuesday.

Councilwoman Ann O’Brien, whose district includes Taiwanese chip manufacturer TSMC, asked if future plans will include a dedicated terminal to international travelers. Makovsky said international flights account for 6% of Sky Harbor traffic.

“So many of our airlines serve both domestic and international destinations at the same time and so that's why what we're proposing is, we have an international concourse at Terminal 4 today, we need to recognize the growth in international in Phoenix, and so what we intend to do is really look at an international facility in the new terminal as well,” he said. “So, there'll be two terminals that have international operations within the airport.”

Makovsky said other projects are underway, including a new concourse at Terminal 3 and a post-security walkway between Terminals 3 and 4.

“We’'ll be investing more than $3.5 billion over the next six years, which amounts to — it's really a staggering number when you start talking about billions — it amounts to roughly $1.6 million in investment every single day over the next six years,” he said.

To cover infrastructure costs, Sky Harbor relies on passenger facility charges, bonds and federal tax dollars. In 2022, Sky Harbor was the busiest three-runway airport in the world and in 2023, it reported more than 48 million passengers. 

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.