Williamson County businesses and residents are a big part of the reason the Nashville Airport plans to expand over the next decade.
Nashville Airport Authority CEO Doug Kreulen gave an update on the airport’s future at Outlook Williamson on April 24. He explained why passengers from Williamson County are a part of that expansion.
“We’ll give you an idea of the challenges the growth in Williamson County and the surrounding area causes the airport, and how we’re trying to do our part to keep up with that,” Kreulen said.
About 16 percent of ticket sales at the Nashville Airport come from within Williamson County. That’s second to Davidson County, which accounts for just over 28 percent of ticket sales.
The airport’s capital budget was about $164 million last year, and Kreulen said it will be around $220 million in fiscal year 2020.
“It used to be $30 to $40 million, but we are on steroids,” he said. “We’ve been going crazy for about five to six years now.”
Right now Kreulen said the airports move the equivalent of a packed Bridgestone Arena twice each day. That adds up to about 16 million passengers a year.
When Kreulen started the job in December 2017 the airport authority expected to hit 22 million passengers a year by 2041. Now, it will probably hit that number by 2032.
“If we could have the ushers pass out the collection plates, I just need some pocket change,” he said at the event. “This is a good challenge to have at the airport.”
The airport has already completed an interim international arrivals building, a new terminal garage and a terminal apron where some international jets will park.
Kreulen pointed to two longer-term improvements that could have a big impact on businesses in Williamson County.
The airport authority is planning to increase the number of gates, which would allow for more airlines and more flights. The airport is also hoping to eventually build a longer runway to allow for direct flights to Asia.