As many airports across the country continue their climb back to pre-pandemic travel numbers, Nashville International Airport rebounded so quickly it had to accelerate its $1.4-billion BNA Vision project portfolio by almost 20 years to keep up with its swelling traveller demands. 

By July 2021, 14 months after COVID-19 sent airports into a virtual standstill, average departures at Nashville had already passed pre-pandemic numbers as more than 25,000 passengers were boarding outbound flights every day. 

And those numbers kept growing, up to a total 9.2 million travelers boarding planes at Nashville in 2022 compared to 6.8 million in 2020, per its annual report. As those numbers ballooned, Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority (MNAA) officials realized they'd have to speed up expansion work. 

In January 2022, MNAA officials told ENR that the original intent of BNA Vision to accommodate the airport's growth through 2041 would be needed by 2023 instead. 

So MNAA dove headfirst into fast-forwarding complex projects like extending is main terminal wings by 200,000 sq ft and creating a 115,000-sq-ft, six-gate Concourse cleared the way for BNA Vision's largest component, a $327-million, 440,000-sq-ft renovation. 

Contractors credited the owner's early involvement, coordinating site logistics and MNAA's regular communications with contractors as fundamental in keeping moving parts on schedule and keeping all the different parties engaged and accessible. 

Those efforts have paid off. On Jan. 24, MNAA unveiled its new, 200,000 sq ft grand lobby with 24 TSA security lanes, immersive displays and art installations, and reopened its Central Terminal, and a new on-site Hilton hotel, satellite concourse, international arrivals facility are all set to open by the end of the year. 

In March, ENR Southeast will profile MNAA as its 2023 Owner of the Year, delving into the airport's recent, ongoing and upcoming projects, and how MNAA continues to transform Nashville International Airport.