NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It’s no secret that the city of Nashville is growing, but as the city itself grows, things like Nashville International Airport need to grow to meet the demand of residents flying in and out, as well as visitors and tourists.
Because of that, the Nashville Airport Authority launched “BNA Vision” in 2018; a five-year plan that will update the airport and add numerous features to the airport, including new garages, new offices, new concourses, and new ticketing wings.
“What we’re trying to do today is build to be able to handle 22, 23 million passengers, but the forecast for Nashville is to get up to 26, 27, maybe 30 million passengers,” Doug Kreulen, president and CEO of the Nashville Airport Authority, said. “When we get that big, 20 years from now, we’re already starting to think about where is the next terminal or the additional terminal going to go?”
Kreulen revealed that the board of commissioners asked the Airport Authority to develop a 20-year strategic plan, which includes the 5-year BNA Vision.
That 20-year plan includes adding a new concourse, adding more gates, lengthening a runway to accommodate flights overseas, including non-stop flights to Asia, and just generally improving the experience for those flying in and out of BNA.
Because so much of the airport’s growth is based on Nashville’s growth and popularity when it comes to tourism, they put out a new master plan every 5 years, and in the past 2 years, they’ve done 8 forecasts on Nashville’s growth and what the airport would need to do to match it.
“Probably every couple years we’re updating a forecast so that we can see what the growth is, what the economic impact is to Nashville so that we make sure that we’re not building it too small or too big, just right,” Kreulen explained.
As for the extended runway, the Airport Authority is on 4,600 acres of land, meaning they have the ability to extend a runway without needing to use any eminent domain, and there is no need to purchase any additional land.
“We have three 8,000 foot runways, and one of those three needs to be lengthened to maybe 12 or 13,000 feet, add about another mile to the end of it,” Kreulen said.
One of the more likely scenarios would be extending one of the runways past Murfreesboro Pike, altering the road to have it travel under the runway through a tunnel to accommodate the extra length.
As for the timeline for these projects, phase one is expected to be completed in 2023, with three more additional 5-year phases extending construction to 2038.