American Airports: Shiny, New, and Empty

Decades-long projects completed as industry turns down
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2008 7:00 AM CDT
The new terminal at Detroit's airport cost millions but is underutilized.   (©specialkrb)
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(Newser) – In the boom years of the last decade, cities across America broke ground on major airport expansions, from additional runways to new terminals. Now those projects are being completed—just as air travel has slowed and hundreds of planes are being grounded. Flights may be less congested, writes the New York Times, but travelers are paying for the new capacity through even higher fares.

The biggest shortfalls have occurred in cities like St. Louis and Pittsburgh, where airlines that once used them as a hub have dropped flights. Cincinnati shelled out $500 million for a new terminal for Delta, only to see traffic fall by more than a third. But despite the downturn, airport executives say they have no choice but to modernize: "Terminal buildings are often 10-, 12-, 15-year projects. You can't turn the spigot on and off."