The airport is planning to expand an aircraft parking area to ease crowding and to make way for additional planes.
“The airport will have a much-needed expanded apron for overnight and diversion aircraft parking,” spokesman Troy Bell said.
John Rutledge, director of planning and engineering, said the expansion will allow for six to eight extra aircrafts to be parked around Concourse A.
The expansion will stretch 11 acres or approximately 480,000 square feet and cost about $10 million.
RIC has put out an invitation for bid and expects to start construction on the project in October.
Bell said that many of the aircraft are parked on one runway and taxiways – and it’s getting overcrowded.
“The parking spaces that we have now are used to capacity,” he said.
There are also a large number of corporate and private aircraft that use the Concourse A in the fall and spring, and much of the other parking areas are leased out to companies such as FedEx and UPS.
“A lot of parking positions are taken by international aircraft as well,” Bell said. “There’s not much that’s not already spoken for.”
The expansion was also fueled by the need to assist airplanes that are diverted to Richmond from other airports because of bad weather, medical emergencies or plane malfunctions.
The project has been in the works for a few years.
Rutledge said the aircraft parking area is the first phase of an expansion project.
“The expansion will be for a concrete aircraft parking area for access for the future Concourse A,” Rutledge said. “This is getting the infrastructure in place before Concourse A is expanded.”
Concourse A is located on the upper level of the airport and is served by AirTran, American and US Airways. Concourse A has eight gates, and Rutledge said the expansion could double that.
Bell said the additional expansion for Concourse A will depend on the level of traffic volume and demand of services out of the airport.
The airport saw traffic peak in 2007 and fall 10 percent since the recession.
In June, the airport saw a 3.5 percent decrease in total passenger travel with 287,713 people flying this year, compared with 298,140 people in 2010.
Rutledge is expecting traffic to pick up in the coming months, and said the expansion will allow them to be prepared for an up tick in passenger traffic.
“We’re starting to see a recovery in traffic,” he said. “At this point we’re trying to stay slightly ahead of the curve.”
Rutledge said the airport has eight to 10 local and out-of-state contractors looking at the job. Bids on the project will close Aug. 23.
About 95 percent of the funding for the project is expected to come from the Federal Aviation Administration.
The Virginia Department of Aviation will fund 3 percent of the project through a grant, and the remaining 2 percent will be funded by the Capital Region Airport Commission, the owner of the airport.