Reno-Tahoe International Airport is a publicly owned airport, operated by Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, and is situated about 5km from the central business district of the city of Reno in Nevada.

The airport covers an area of 1,450 acres (587ha) and there are three operational runways: 16R/34L 11,002ft (3,353m), 16L/34R 9,000ft (2,743m) and 7/25 6,102ft (1,860m).

The 16L (eastern parallel) and 16R (western parallel) runways have Precision Approach Path Indicators (PAPI), Instrument Landing System (ILS) and VHF Omnidirectional Radio Range (VOR) Approach and the 7/25 east-west runway has PAPI and Runway End Identifier Lights (REILs). There are High-Intensity Runway Lighting (HIRL) and lighted centrelines on 16R and 16L, which allows reliable operations in all weathers.

Airport usage

This airport, which is the third busiest in Nevada after Las Vegas McCarran and North Las Vegas, serves the entire Reno metropolitan area and also western Nevada, and some parts of eastern California. Reno-Tahoe is the closest commercial airport to the Lake Tahoe resort for skiing and visiting.

Reno-Tahoe Airport handled approximately 3.7m passengers in 2009.

Problems

One of the biggest problems, which was becoming intolerable, was that the airport terminal had run out of room. The check-in lines were extending outside the terminal onto the kerb.

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 2001, lobby-based EDSs (Explosive Detection Systems) had been installed at the airport to screen checked baggage and comply with TSA (Transport Security Administration) regulations.

The EDS machines have taken up valuable lobby space (eight large EDSs and 30 smaller inspection devices take up 35% of the floor space in the ticketing area) and this needed to be reclaimed by a complete reconfiguration and expansion of the terminal.

Reno-Tahoe expansion

The $60m expansion project (with $12m coming from the TSA) involved a bigger and reconfigured lobby area in the terminal building as well as a new baggage system, a new tower and also a new Hyatt hotel. A new, six-storey 127-room Hyatt hotel west of the parking areas was opened in September 2010. In addition a five-acre site is available around the hotel for retailers and restaurants.

Renovation and installation of a baggage system at the terminal was completed in February 2010. A 61m high control tower constructed by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was opened in late 2010. The base building of the new tower covers an area of 10,000ft². FAA constructed the new tower at a cost of $29.4m.

A brand new terminal building is due to start construction in 2012 once certain bonds are paid off.

New airport lobby design

The reconfiguration of the lobby space and the new design was carried out by Gresham Smith & Partners (GS&P). GS&P designed a three-matrix in-line EDS to move the machines behind the ATO wall, and also designed various lobby updates and renovations to give the airport a new modern look (remodelling to a Tahoe theme in natural colours and stone, with a floating ceiling simulating clouds). GS&P provided architectural services as well as engineering, interior design and project management.

The next step was an in-line baggage belt system built under Sensitive Security Information (SSI) screens to integrate with the screening system.

Also included in the conversion from a lobby-based to an in-line automated EDS was the incorporation of new CUTE and CUSS equipment for greater flexibility in the ticketing processes performed by each carrier (the airport achieved IATA Level C class of service for the ticket hall as a result of the project).

Q and D Construction were the general contractors for the Airport Baggage Check-in (ABC) project.

“Reno-Tahoe is the third busiest airport in Nevada after Las Vegas McCarran and North Las Vegas.”

During the expansion project the airport moved the check-in area outside and provided semi-permanent awnings / cover to protect queuing passengers from the weather.

ABC project

When the construction project at Reno-Tahoe was ongoing the TSA located a temporary baggage-screening operation in a pop-up facility on the south end of the terminal (bags are screened away from the temporary lobby area).

The project ended the two-step baggage check process which was the norm for the last five years (one line to check-in then a second line to get the bags screened and passed through security). All of the baggage check mechanism went behind the scenes and left a new more spacious lobby area for check-in.

The temporary lobby area was established under cover outside the building and all of the construction work inside placed under high security status as required by the TSA.

Parking

The airport features a three level structure with 1,250 covered parking spaces for short and long-term parking. An additional 850 uncovered parking spaces for long-term parking are also available at the airport.

Ground transportation

Numerous taxis, shuttles and limousine services operate to and from the airport. Public transportation is also available.