Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport is undergoing an improvement project known as SDF Next. Credit: Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport.
The airport serves as the base for UPS Airlines, a cargo airline. Credit: RozenskiP.
LRAA announced the $400m investment project in December 2019. Credit: Louisville Images.

Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF) is undergoing a capital improvement programme comprising a series of improvements to meet the demand of growing passenger traffic.

The capital improvement plan is dubbed as SDF Next and is anticipated to take five to seven years to complete.

Owned and operated by Louisville Regional Airport Authority (LRAA), the airport is North America’s second-busiest and the world’s fourth-busiest in terms of cargo handling.

Unveiled in December 2019, the modernisation programme will involve an estimated investment of $400m.

The airport served more than 4.2 million passengers and handled 2.78 million tonnes (Mt) of cargo and 88,907 aircraft operations in 2019. Six airlines currently operate at the airport, offering flights to more than 30 non-stop destinations.

Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport’s SDF Next programme details

The primary objective of the SDF Next project is to ensure that the Louisville Muhammad Ali Airport is ready for the future with enhanced terminal facilities and amenities.

Structural improvements will include the development of new departures and arrivals curbs at the airport. In addition, the project will create a new exit to the Parking Garage from the arrivals curb and a new terminal plaza.

New carousels will be added for baggage claim and an international port of entry will be built to create the space for customs inspections, baggage inspection and handle international arrivals.

Renovation works will also include the installation of new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), sidewalks, walkways, jet bridges, and elevators. A new facility will be built to handle airport operations and emergency operations.

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security checkpoint at the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport will be upgraded with improved lanes for passenger queues and baggage scanners. The airport will house United Service Organizations (USO), an organisation which supports US Armed Forces and their military families. LRAA will also invest more than $200m in the improvement of the Jerry E Abramson Terminal. The observation waiting area has been shifted to the US Post Office at 4440 Crittenden Drive.

Construction works at Louisville international airport

The commercial kerb on the terminal’s lower arrivals roadway has been temporarily closed as part of the improvement project.

The current project works include enhancements to the east parking tunnel that connects the terminal and the parking garage. The tunnel will include new terrazzo flooring, ceiling, improved lighting, and upgraded mechanical and electrical systems.


An additional surface lot parking is being built and the area on the airport’s east side is being improved to provide increased parking space.

The airport invested nearly $5.3m for the construction of more than 1,000 parking lots. The new express shuttle parking lot with 974 additional parking spaces was opened to the public in January 2020. Users can park their vehicles at the new parking garage, surface lot or credit card-only lot. The rental car space will be moved to the first floor of the parking garage with operations anticipated to commence in mid-2020.

The parking space will be installed with M4 smart-sensor system to offer parking guidance to users. The camera-based M4 system will monitor occupancy on the second and third levels of the garage, whereas the S1 outdoor solution will assist in assessing rooftop availability.

Contractors involved in SDF Next project

Messer Construction was contracted for the construction of the express shuttle parking lot. SP+ Airport Services is responsible for the management of the parking lot.

Park Assist secured a contract to provide the parking guidance system (PGS) in June 2020.