Nashville airport soars to new heights without budget bust

Nashville 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The numbers are in and the Nashville International Airport shattered all-time passenger records again in 2019 with nearly 18.3 million passengers served. This marks the seventh consecutive calendar year of record-setting growth.

Roughly 1,000 workers a day contribute to the BNA vision taking the airport to new heights. In charge of it all, President and CEO Douglas E. Kreulen. The retired Air Force Colonel spent his career in aviation planning and executing missions at the highest level. He took time to give News 2’s Alex Denis a behind-the-scenes tour.

Now managing a more than $1.4 billion project, Kreulen starts the tour where three parking garages will eventually hold 7,000 spaces.

“As it comes out of the ground from the 5th floor up, it will go up an additional 11 stories. That will allow us to have 250-300 rooms for a new hotel,” Kreulen says with a smile.

Operating as a business, the Airport Authority doesn’t use tax payer’s money. So every piece of the puzzle is designed to drive revenue to cover cost.

Conscious of the ever-changing landscape of Nashville, construction plans accommodate future needs like possible light rail service…even flying cars!

“I don’t know if we’ll ever get to the Jetsons, but we’re planning for them,” Kreulen chuckles, “we can land those vehicles on the top of the 6th level.”

Scheduled for completion in July, inside will look different this summer, too.

“This will be the new corridor that will get us into the new Concourse D,” Kreulen explained as he walked though the construction zone.

Twenty thousand square feet of new space will be added to the north and south ends of the terminal.

The Ticketing Lobby will expand, four new baggage claim carousels will help wait times and new dining and retail options will line the walls.

The staff meets weekly to discuss, “We check the progress of construction. We have a finance report at that meeting, and then we also produce a monthly program report that we provide to our Board of Commissioners.”

It’s extreme accountability necessary to stay on track.

“We’re on schedule and on budget for these projects, and that’s a big deal to us because we’re a business. It’s working pretty good. And, I have a lot of pride on being on time.”

News 2 is reporting on Nashville’s historic growth and the growing pains that come with it. Click here for more Nashville 2020 reports.

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