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ABIA Expansion Thread


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On 5/20/2022 at 9:36 AM, Native Horn said:

I saw an article (maybe KXAN?) a couple of days ago that said that website is not accurate anymore due to technology lapses or some bullshit.  

We can get a live feed of the peacocks at the Austin Zoo but we can’t get real-time wait times at our international airport which sees 22 million visitors a year?

Wtf is wrong with you Austin?

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2 minutes ago, Chet Steadman said:

We can get a live feed of the peacocks at the Austin Zoo but we can’t get real-time wait times at our international airport which sees 22 million visitors a year?

Wtf is wrong with you Austin?

They should just put a live feed of the line. Let the zoo run it.

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9 hours ago, Mittens said:

ABIA attempts 'unusual' use of eminent domain to force out South Terminal operator

Ask anyone stuck on an airplane waiting for a gate at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) if the Barbara Jordan Terminal is big enough, and you'll hear something like this:

"It's mind-boggling to me that Bergstrom has not grown as it's needed to. It's embarrassing," said Jon Lamb, a Florida resident who last month was stuck on an American Airlines plane after landing because no gates were available. "I was angry that now I'm going to miss an important customer call."

Officials who run the city-owned airport want to fix this problem by building more gates. A big plan in the works would add a new concourse by 2028 with at least 10 gates and the ability to expand to 40. The concourse would be connected to the Barbara Jordan Terminal by an underground pedestrian tunnel.

But there's one big obstacle: The South Terminal where ultra-low-cost airlines Allegiant and Frontier operate would have to be demolished.

The South Terminal is run by a private company, Lonestar Airport Holdings. In 2015, the Austin City Council approved a 30-year lease with Lonestar's parent company plus two optional five-year extensions.

Lonestar says it has invested close to $20 million in the South Terminal, including about $1 million to accommodate a $75 million Allegiant base of operations that opened in November.

So now the City of Austin is attempting a novel use of the state's eminent domain law to terminate Lonestar's lease. ABIA wants the company gone by July 2023.

As part of the condemnation process — legal steps under eminent domain law to seize a property — the city sent an initial offer in late March to buy out Lonestar's lease for nearly $2 million.

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Lonestar rejected the offer as "objectively offensive." In a blistering response, the company's lawyers accused the city of trying to "wrongfully condemn its way out of binding contractual obligations." They said the city's attempts to force out Lonestar would fail in court.

Jacqueline Yaft, the airport's executive director, signaled confidence that the eminent domain process would proceed as planned.

"The city's next steps will be to send a final offer letter to the tenant as required by the Texas eminent domain statute," she told commissioners overseeing the airport.

If that offer is rejected, the city would then file a condemnation lawsuit to force out Lonestar.

Attorneys who work in eminent domain law said this is far from an open-and-shut case.

"I think this is kind of an unusual one," David Todd, an eminent domain attorney based in Austin, said. "We may even develop some new case law based on the result of what the result is here."

"There is some precedent to say [the government] can't use eminent domain simply to take over a business that it had already contracted to allow someone else to do," Todd said.

Usually, eminent domain is used to seize property for a public use. In this case, the city is trying to terminate a lease on its own property.

"That's a very atypical scenario," said Luke Ellis, an eminent domain attorney who teaches at UT Austin. "Usually the condemning entity is not the owner."

Ellis says even if the city can use eminent domain to force out the South Terminal operator, it may have unintended consequences.

"If the city could simply condemn its way out of any contract that they no longer believe is suitable or advantageous to the city, the net effect of that is private enterprise is going to have zero interest in doing any business with the city," he said.

Airport officials have been reluctant to comment publicly on a case that could wind up in court. ABIA issued a statement that reads in part: "The Department of Aviation will continue to work with all business stakeholders and tenants throughout the duration of this program and looks forward to delivering an improved passenger experience to all AUS customers."

 

negotiating a 30yr lease with options when the airport was already exploring short-mid term terminal expansion is borderline negligent 

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negotiating a 30yr lease with options when the airport was already exploring short-mid term terminal expansion is borderline negligent 

It’s ridiculous.

This airport is pretty new and they started with a blank slate. How is there not a master plan for expansion

It’s like a kid playing sim city except shittier
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1 hour ago, 4th&Five said:

Here now (7pm) and over half the restaurants are closed and a lot of the stores. I assume staffing but pretty frustrating. 

I assume it is staffing as well, but airport traffic has got to be some high dollar traffic so you could afford to pay more to attract workers. 

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It’s ridiculous.

This airport is pretty new and they started with a blank slate. How is there not a master plan for expansion

It’s like a kid playing sim city except shittier

Cue Pasken with some bullshit city government excuse in 3…2…1…
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On 5/25/2022 at 7:27 PM, 4th&Five said:

Here now (7pm) and over half the restaurants are closed and a lot of the stores. I assume staffing but pretty frustrating. 

That's earlier than I remember but I also remember that ABIA stores and restaurants have always closed pretty early since most outbound flights leave before the evening. 

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For what has become a busy international airport, the city still operates it like the old Robert Mueller airport. Pretty par for the course for Austin city government.

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On 5/25/2022 at 7:27 PM, 4th&Five said:

Here now (7pm) and over half the restaurants are closed and a lot of the stores. I assume staffing but pretty frustrating. 

That's an improvement over when I was there just a couple months ago, when absolutely everything was closed by 7:00.  If you wanted anything to eat or drink, you had to go up to the AAdmirals Club.

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1 hour ago, Ghost of LL said:

That's an improvement over when I was there just a couple months ago, when absolutely everything was closed by 7:00.  If you wanted anything to eat or drink, you had to go up to the AAdmirals Club.

Nice humble brag

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23 hours ago, royiv said:

For what has become a busy international airport, the city still operates it like the old Robert Mueller airport. Pretty par for the course for Austin city government.

Hanging out at Taco Bell slamming large beers before walking to the gate to meet your girlfriend's flight was highly underrated.  

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18 hours ago, JesusSweatDuck said:

Nice humble brag

Tell me you haven't been in the Admiral's Club at AUS without telling me you haven't been in the Admiral's Club at AUS.

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2 minutes ago, JesusSweatDuck said:

Sorry, only use the Delta lounge

Yeah, that one is pretty sweet. The Admiral's Club is worn down and super cramped, especially in the afternoon around when the BA flight departs. Luckily, AA is building a new club that should be a huge upgrade. Can't happen fast enough.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

Last night was my first time picking up at ABIA post-COVID.  What an experience...

My wife's flight was two hours delayed, so I pulled into the cell phone lot at fifteen minutes 'till midnight.  The place was packed.  I was lucky to find a parking spot.  The cell phone lot has bloomed into a gas station, a convenience store, and a Whataburger with a drive through.  The gas pumps were packed and the Whataburger drive through was backed up into the main lot, blocking traffic.  Who decides to head out to the airport for some midnight burgers?

Five minutes after I parked, an 18-wheeler pulled into the cell phone lot and completely screwed up the traffic.  WTF?  I had questions for the driver like why are you picking someone up at the airport in a giant truck, but a small mob of blocked in drivers convinced the dude to leave, which he did once the Whataburger drive-through line gave him a chance.

Got a text from my wife 30 minutes after she had landed saying that she had her bag and was waiting at post E.  I texted "Is it crowded where you are?" and she replied "It is more crowded elsewhere." which is information but not exactly what I wanted to know.  I replied "OMW".

I started the car, weaved around the Whataburger drive through, drove around the gas pumps, tried to exit the cell phone lot and hit standstill traffic before I could even get onto the loop around the terminal.  It's fifteen minutes after midnight and the airport is gridlocked.  Why?

I called my wife and use my best Puddy voice and said "Babe, you gotta get upstairs to Departures.  If you don't we will need to find a place for breakfast on the way home." I waited two minutes, which was easy to do because my traffic lane was not moving.  I changed lanes to Departures  and had two completely empty lanes to choose from and a mostly empty curbside area to pick up my wife.

If you head to the airport, beware the cell phone lot and the Arrivals area.  Picking up at Departures can save you about an hour.  However, if you need midnight Whataburger, a tank of gas and a bag of Fritos, they are ready to serve.   

Edited by Texas Jeff
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27 minutes ago, Texas Jeff said:

Last night was my first time picking up at ABIA post-COVID.  What an experience...

My wife's flight was two hours delayed, so I pulled into the cell phone lot at fifteen minutes 'till midnight.  The place was packed.  I was lucky to find a parking spot.  The cell phone lot has bloomed into a gas station, a convenience store, and a Whataburger with a drive through.  The gas pumps were packed and the Whataburger drive through was backed up into the main lot, blocking traffic.  Who decides to head out to the airport for some midnight burgers?

Five minutes after I parked, an 18-wheeler pulled into the cell phone lot and completely screwed up the traffic.  WTF?  I had questions for the driver like why are you picking someone up at the airport in a giant truck, but a small mob of blocked in drivers convinced the dude to leave, which he did once the Whataburger drive-through line gave him a chance.

Got a text from my wife 30 minutes after she had landed saying that she had her bag and was waiting at post E.  I texted "Is it crowded where you are?" and she replied "It is more crowded elsewhere." which is information but not exactly what I wanted to know.  I replied "OMW".

I started the car, weaved around the Whataburger drive through, drove around the gas pumps, tried to exit the cell phone lot and hit standstill traffic before I could even get onto the loop around the terminal.  It's fifteen minutes after midnight and the airport is gridlocked.  Why?

I called my wife and use my best Puddy voice and said "Babe, you gotta get upstairs to Departures.  If you don't we will need to find a place for breakfast on the way home." I waited two minutes, which was easy to do because my traffic lane was not moving.  I changed lanes to Departures  and had two completely empty lanes to choose from and a mostly empty curbside area to pick up my wife.

If you head to the airport, beware the cell phone lot and the Arrivals area.  Picking up at Departures can save you about an hour.  However, if you need midnight Whataburger, a tank of gas and a bag of Fritos, they are ready to serve.   

Example A of why adding additional gates without addressing the severe lack of curbspace at the terminal is going to fuck things up even worse than they already are. As usual, the City of Austin can't manage or plan its way out of a paper sack.

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We flew back in Monday night from Jamaica, arrived (late) about 1 am and the airport felt about half full with arrivals.  What was particularly nuts was the pick-up area-I’ve never seen that much traffic during daylight hours.  

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10 hours ago, Texas Jeff said:

If you head to the airport, beware the cell phone lot and the Arrivals area.  Picking up at Departures can save you about an hour.  However, if you need midnight Whataburger, a tank of gas and a bag of Fritos, they are ready to serve.   

This is my new mode of operation for drop offs and pick ups at the airport.  Before noon - you get dropped off at arrivals.  After 3 (and especially after 5), you get picked up at departures.

I am a fan of Park and Zoom, but the traffic delays have made it less compelling than it was in the past.  ABIA management is just a microcosm of Austin city management.  It's been this way since the 70s, but it is far more impactful and irritating now that there are around 2.3 million people in the area.

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First time using the facial recognition scan for Global Entry yesterday. So damn easy. It’s a bit freaky that the tech is good enough to instantly recognize my 9YO who got her GE 3 years ago and doesn’t look that much like her 6YO GE photo. We were through customs in about 90 seconds and in the curb waiting for the Park & Zoom shuttle. An acquaintance on the same London flight said it took over an hour to get her checked bag.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 6/25/2022 at 11:10 PM, boilerhorn said:

This is my new mode of operation for drop offs and pick ups at the airport.  Before noon - you get dropped off at arrivals.  After 3 (and especially after 5), you get picked up at departures.

This should be SOP for all.  There is never a need to be on the lower level after noon.  

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