American Airlines switching concourses at CVG as part of major ramp upgrades

HEBRON, Ky. -- A legacy carrier at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport is changing concourses this spring to clear the way for a multi-year construction project that could have all airlines playing a version of musical chairs.

American Airlines will shift its gate operations from Concourse A to Concourse B -- Delta's foothold -- around April 1. CVG officials are initiating a major ramp rehabilitation; work could take as many as two to three years to complete.

It's considered a temporary change for now. 

"Normally, when you do this kind of project, you cut the concrete out of one gate, which takes one gate down (at a time), but to expedite it. And because we are growing so fast we're going to do multiple gates at once," Bobby Spann, vice president of external affairs at CVG, said. "The only way to do multiple gates is to relocate (American) to B."

The move will not only speed up the project -- during a time when CVG is experiencing tremendous growth in local passenger traffic -- but it will also reduce operational costs and minimize the impact on customers.

American will be the only airline to change concourses completely, but airport officials said all carriers will be affected to some degree. Once American clears from Concourse A, its gates essentially become swing gates for remaining carriers there -- like Allegiant, Frontier, United, Southwest and Air Canada -- as construction progresses. 

In Concourse B, American will use five "spare" gates, including B-18, B-20, B-22, B-24 and B-26. That had to be approved by Delta, which still holds a lease on Concourse B for two more years.

"Everybody will have to make adjustments," Spann said. "It's a dice game until the entire Concourse A is done."

The project could take two years or more. CVG Vice President for Planning and Development Barb Schempf said the exact duration depends heavily on weather, phasing and funds. CVG has received a Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement Project grant for the work, she said. Remaining funds are subject to Congressional appropriation. 

The good news? The shuffle will allow officials the opportunity to open more concessions in Concourse B to support the American operations -- as well as WOW Air's launch in May -- and to complement top sellers Chick-fil-A, McDonald's, Max & Erma's, Bruegger's Bagels and Starbucks. CVG is already soliciting bids for new retail and food and beverage spots for this year. 

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