Today’s announcement of the ATAG vote is newsworthy as much for the misreporting as for the announcement itself. The group is officially recommending a single terminal – but subject to cost. 25% of the group felt we could not make any recommendation without these cost numbers. (If you count the members who attended a majority of the meetings and town halls, that percentage might be significantly higher.) We never received solid cost estimates on any of the options nor discussed how the Aviation Department might pay for an additional $60-70 million worth of annual debt out of a $120 million annual operating budget.
It’s also worth clarifying that the “simple renovation” option that is being reported as receiving zero votes, was not a simple renovation. It involved taking the existing terminals and adding a central security area to replace the current multiple screening areas (even though TSA told us that our current set-up offered certain advantages and that a central area would afford no cost savings.) The “simple renovation” option was removed from consideration by the co-chairs before the group had a chance to deliberate.
Today’s recommendation in no way guarantees that there will be a single terminal. Next up, the airlines and Aviation meet over the next 12-24 months and come up with their own recommendation, starting with the information we have gathered to date. It’s safe to conclude now that Aviation will say with even more gusto that they want a single terminal. The airlines will then say, “We’re happy for you but don’t want to pay for it and our customers don’t either.” And thus the game continues. Eventually, they’ll emerge with a plan and we get to vote on it – but likely not before the end of 2016.