Monday, June 17, 2024

Building Bridges: Upgrades to passenger bridges at Shreveport Regional Airport part of customer experience improvements

by BIZ Magazine

The Shreveport Regional Airport is making major upgrades to improve their customer experience via installation of four new passenger boarding bridges.

Bridges at the American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Allegiant gates are slated to be replaced every month and a half through the end of the year. 

“The bridges that are being replaced are nearly 20 years old which makes it very difficult to find parts for the bridges should something need replacing,” said Mark Crawford, marketing and public relations manager for the Shreveport Airport Authority. “When a bridge is taken out of service for maintenance, passengers must arrive and depart the airport gate via stairs, which can be difficult for some passengers. These newer boarding bridges should provide a much more dependable operation and an improved passenger experience.”

Beginning Aug. 7, crews from AERO Bridgeworks, Shaw Equipment Service and Barnhart Crane Company removed the existing passenger boarding bridge from the American Airlines gate at Shreveport Regional Airport. A new bridge was then installed and will be brought into service over the next few weeks.

Existing boarding bridges at the Delta and Allegiant gates will be replaced with newer boarding bridges. 

“Making sure that passengers have a great experience while at Shreveport Regional Airport is important to us and the replacement of these passenger boarding bridges is just one of the many ways we are working to improve things for Ark-La-Tex residents as they travel through the airport,” Stephanie Tucker, interim director of airports for the Shreveport Airport Authority, said via a press release.

A fourth bridge is being installed on Gate 3, which will be used as a common-use gate, allowing any airline, including charter flights, to use the gate as needed.

“Each time the gate gets used, that is additional revenue for the airport,” Crawford explained.

The Airport Authority purchased the bridges from JBT Corporation in November 2020. They then awarded a $527,011 installation contract to AERO Bridgeworks in April this year. 

The bridges were stored at no cost from November 2020 to June 2021. Beginning in June 2021, JBT Corporation informed the Airport that it would begin charging storage fees of $5,570 per bridge, per month.

The Airport decided to have all four bridges transported at one time for installation.

“Due to the high storage cost and the high probability that COVID-19 could significantly delay transport of the bridges — delaying the project and thereby incurring additional financial charges — the decision was made to transport bridges all at one time, avoiding trucking delays that would affect delivery of the bridges,” Tucker said during a special meeting held Aug. 6.

The Airport Authority voted at that meeting to approve additional costs of $79,132.04 for services related to offloading, storage, and handling of the bridges.

The original plan was to have all existing bridges removed and decommissioned after each new bridge was unloaded and ready for installation. Since the decision was made to receive all four at once, that means double handling of the bridges for offloading and then removal.

Tucker said installation of all four bridges at one time would have shut the airport down for 30 days. The installation cost would have also increased if the bridges were installed all at once.

The bridges’ age means they cannot be sold or used by another airport, so they will be declared surplus and be moved to on-airport storage site until they can be removed.

These upgrades are due to be followed in the coming years by new flooring, new lighting, updated wall coverings and new seating

“We know that Ark-La-Tex residents have options when flying from the region, so we are always working to improve the passenger experience at the airport,” Crawford said. “While COVID-19 has slowed these projects, the airport is committed to offering the best experience for passengers when traveling from Shreveport.”

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