The most expensive airport projects in 2023

The number of airport construction projects to break ground in 2023 doubled compared to the previous year, almost returning to 2021 levels. Peter Nilson highlights the ten most expensive projects.

In total, 117 airport construction projects broke ground over the last year, according to GlobalData’s construction project database. These projects have a combined value of over $51bn.

This number reflects a healthy airport construction sector, with growth of roughly 68% in the last year, compared to the 71 projects that cost a total of £50bn in 2022. The number of airport construction projects to break ground in 2023 is almost back to 2021 levels when 159 projects commenced at a total cost of roughly $110bn.

Through 2023, almost half (49.6%) of all airport construction projects to enter the execution phase ground were projects involving airport terminals – either expansions or new developments – totalling over $27.6bn of combined investment. 

The second most popular type of construction project to break ground in the airport sector was airport runway projects, with 18.8% of the total airport construction projects to break ground in the last year either being airport runway extensions, renewals, or new developments – with a combined investment of $14.3bn. 

Of the 10 most expensive civil airport projects that entered the execution phase in 2023, half are located in Asia, proving the rapid growth of aviation in the region. However, 40% of projects to break ground last year, including the most expensive, were in Europe. The total cost of all ten was a whopping $24.7bn, almost half (48%) of the combined investment globally in the last year.

So, here is the list of the top 10 most expensive civil airport construction projects that broke ground in 2023, according to the GlobalData construction database.

10. Chinchero International Airport, Peru: $427m

Chinchero International Airport is a new international airport under construction by The Ministry of Transport and Communications of Peru in the town of Chinchero, 30km (18.6 miles) northwest of the city of Cusco, Perú. It is planned to replace the existing Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport in Cusco. Cusco is one of the main tourist destinations in not only Peru but also South America as a whole.

The new airport project includes the construction of a passenger terminal on 46,900 square metres (11.6 acres), a 45m (148 feet) wide, 4km (2.5-mile) runway, an ATC tower, taxiways, and parking facilities.

The airport, which is at an altitude will be 3,720 metres (12,200 feet) above sea level, will be able to operate during nighttime, with its runway allowing for B757 aircraft landings. It is planned to serve an annual capacity of five million passengers.

After a lengthy process and several delays, construction on the project, which will generate more than 5,000 jobs, commenced in Q3 2023. The airport is scheduled to open in 2026.

9. Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport Terminal 4, China: $500m

Shenzhen Airport Group (SAG) is constructing the new Terminal 4 (T4) at the Bao'an International Airport in Shenzhen, China. The airport, which serves the Pearl River Delta, is located 32km (20 miles) northwest of Shenzhen city centre.

The $500m project aims to increase air traffic handling capabilities to provide better facilities, giving the capacity to handle around 31 million passengers – 24 million international and 7 million domestic – annually.

The construction of the T4 terminal with a 400,000 square metre (98.8 acre) floor area, 60 new stands, connections to the mid-field satellite, a luggage claim hall, security checkpoints, and the installation of elevators and equipment.

Construction on the constrained site of the new T4 passenger terminal, under which a rail interchange station is located, commenced in February 2023 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2025.

8. Manchester Airport Expansion – The Avenue, UK: $544m

Manchester Airports Group (MAG), is constructing new retail and commercial units at Manchester Airport, UK. The commercial zone, dubbed ‘The Avenue’, is located in Terminal 2 (T2) of the third busiest airport in the UK. T2 is currently undergoing a £1.3bn ($1.6bn) upgrade, which will double the size of the passenger terminal.

The Avenue project involves the expansion of airport facilities at T2, including 16 new retail stores and 11 food and beverage outlets, all of which will open onto an airfield view. It also includes a new champagne bar as its centrepiece, which will sit alongside artisan cafes, a brasserie, and a market hall-style food court.   
The £440m ($544) development also includes a business lounge and the installation of safety and security systems. According to MAG, more than 500 jobs will be created in the construction phase of the project, and 16,400 extra jobs will be generated from the expansion by 2040.

Mace Consultant has been appointed as a main contractor for The Avenue, which commenced construction towards the end of 2023 and is expected to be completed at the start of 2027.

7. Palma de Mallorca Airport Redevelopment, Spain: $639m 

Spanish airport operator Aeropuertos Españoles y Navegación Aérea (AENA) is undertaking the redevelopment of Palma de Mallorca Airport, also known as Son Sant Joan Mallorca Airport, in the Balearic Islands, Spain. The airport is located 8km (5.0 miles) east of Palma on the island of Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands, roughly 200km (124 miles) east of mainland Spain in the Mediterranean Sea.

The €559m ($639m) project, which will reportedly create 1,000 new jobs, was planned in order to increase the operational capacity of the airport, reduce delays and traffic congestion, and improve user safety.

The project includes redeveloping the Module A billing and arrivals terminal building with five new gateways, the Module D building with three new gateways, and the demolition of the Aena III building.

It also includes building two aircraft parking platforms on the west and east docks, a taxiway, a new connecting corridor between the processing building and three boarding bridges, new commercial facilities, and automated baggage handling systems.

A new car parking facility for 1,712 cars will be built, and new electrical, fire and air conditioning systems, security controls, and ventilation systems will be installed.

Acciona Construction has been appointed as the construction contractor, and WSP Global is the project management services contractor. WSP’s contract includes the improvement, renovation, and reorganisation of the airport's processor building, docks A, C, D, and the parking and access areas.

Construction began in October 2023, and the project is expected to be completed in early 2026.

6. Nasiriyah International Airport, Iraq: $667m

The Dhi Qar Investment Commission (DIC) is developing a part of Imam Ali Airbase, commonly referred to as "Tallil”, into the civil airport in Nasiriya, Iraq. The civilian airport, dubbed Nasiriyah International Airport, is being planned to handle a capacity of 750,000 passengers annually in its first phase.

The $667m project involves the construction of a new passenger terminal building with a potential capacity of up to one million passengers per year, a passenger hall, and the construction of 25km (15.5 miles) of airport connection lines.

The project also includes building new runways, a 5,000 square metre (5,382 square feet) cargo building, aircraft stands, air traffic control tower, shops, and installation of alarms, elevators, and safety and security systems.

Interestingly, Tallil contains the site of the ancient Babylonian city of Ur within its boundaries, one of the places identified as Ur of the Chaldees and the birthplace of the common Hebrew patriarch of the Abrahamic religions, Abraham.

Construction on the airport, located 23km (14 miles) southwest of Nasiriyah, Iraq, was contracted to the China State Construction Engineering Corporation in September 2019. Construction work began in February 2023 and is expected to be completed by mid-2025.

5. Haneda Airport Terminal 2 North Satellite Building, Japan: $800m

The Japan Airport Terminal Company (JAT) is expanding the Terminal 2 north satellite building at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan.

The project involves the expansion of the Terminal 2 North Satellite Building, with a new footprint of 322,000 square metres (198 acres). It includes the expansion of the main North Satellite Building connection to 21,000 square metres (5.2 acres), the extension of the North Building to 19,000 square metres (4.7 acres), and the renovation of the North Satellite to 11,000 square metres (2.7 acres).

The expansion also includes the construction of the northern satellite three floors above ground, the north extension building six floors above ground, new entrances and exits, CIQ facilities, duty-free shops, check-in counters, restaurants, waiting areas, a baggage claim area, parking facilities, and the installation of elevators and safety and security systems.

Construction work, contracted to the Taisei Corporation, began in April 2023 and is scheduled to be completed by February 2025.

4. Imam Khomeini International Airport City, Iran: $4bn

The Imam Khomeini International Airport City project is a $4bn urban redevelopment project attached to Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKA), located 30km (19 miles) south of Tehran. It does, however, also include additional facilities for IKA in its full plan.

The project involves the construction of residential facilities, townships, and related infrastructure to create an Airport City as well as a free trade and special economic zone for IKA. The project includes a new public transit system in the form of a subway – specifically new stations and lines connecting the existing Shahed metro station, the Aftab township, IKA, and the planned city of Parand City.

The Airport City project also includes the construction of a new passenger terminal, new cargo facilities, a new air traffic control tower, and other infrastructure facilities at IKA, aimed to increase the airport’s capacity to 60 million passengers per year.

The project started construction following a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Terminal 2 building in December 2023, with the entire Imam Khomeini International Airport City project expected to be completed by the end of 2026.

3. Long Thanh International Airport Terminal 3, Vietnam: $4bn

Long Thanh International Airport is a new airport being built in Dong Nai, Vietnam. The airport is located 40km (25 miles) east of Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s most populous city. The cost of the project, which is split into three phases, totals $14.1bn, with a footprint of 55.8 square kilometres (13,789 acres).

The airport will replace the existing Tan Son Nhat International Airport, which handles two-thirds of all international arrivals in Vietnam. Long Thanh International is projected to have the capacity to handle 100 million passengers per year, with a total of five terminal buildings when the entire project is completed.

The first phase of the project broke ground back in 2021, with the second phase commencing in September 2023 following a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the airport’s Terminal 3 (T3) passenger terminal building. T3 is expected to manage a capacity of 25 million travellers per year, with the building comprised of a basement and four above-ground floors on a 112,500 square metre (28 acre) footprint.

T3 includes 90 check-in counters, 20 self-service bag-drop counters, and 42 self-check-in kiosks. There are 27 aircraft boarding gates (including 13 jet bridges and 14 bus gates), 6 baggage processing islands for departure and 10 for arrivals, and 25 passenger security checkpoints.

The second phase of the Long Thanh International Airport project, which commenced with the groundbreaking for T3, is expected to be completed in 2026.

2. John F. Kennedy International Airport Terminal 6, US: $4.2bn

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) is undertaking the construction of Terminal 6 (T6), a new terminal that will connect to Terminal 5 at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York, US. The $4.2bn new T6 development will replace the existing Terminal 7, with Terminal 7 planned for demolition after the first phase of construction of T6 is completed.

The T6 project involves a total footprint of 111,483 square metres (27.5 acres) for the terminal building, housing ten gates for domestic and international flights. It includes the construction of 6,875 square metres (1.7 acres) of retail space and 2,787 square metres (30,000 square feet) of airline lounges.

The project also includes building 9,290 square metres (2.3 acres) of commercial dining space, as well as a new check-in hall, access roads, recreational spaces, and the installation of new safety and security systems.

The new terminal will be financed and operated by JetBlue Airways and JFK Millennium Partners. Construction commenced in February 2023 following a groundbreaking ceremony, with the first few gates expected to be completed by 2026 and the entire terminal estimated to be completed in 2028.

1. Central Communication Port, Poland: $8.9bn

The Solidarity Transport Hub, otherwise known as the Central Communication Port, is a Polish megaproject, building a new airport from scratch 40km (25 miles) southwest of Warsaw.

The PLN35bn ($8.9bn) programme includes the construction of the new airport, including two runways, terminal buildings, commercial and retail units, as well as parking facilities and connecting roads.

The megaproject also includes building a new airport city, modernising 2,400km (1,491 miles) of existing railway lines and constructing 1,800km (1,119 miles) of new high-speed railway lines – consisting of 10 major corridors – as well as building a new controlled-access highway network connection.

The project involves the construction of a PLN19.3bn ($4.8bn) airport with a planned initial capacity of 45 million passengers per year after the initial phase, rising to 100 million passengers after full completion of the project on 30 square km (7,413 acres) of land located between Warsaw and Lodz.

Construction on the airport, which will act as a hub for LOT Polish Airlines, commenced in October 2023, with the first phase of the airport and a few sections of the railway lines anticipated to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2027.