Your travel experience begins here

Whether you’re flying to Grand Rapids for a conference, taking the family to the Rockies for some summertime hiking, or flying in for a Beer City beercation with friends, the Gerald R. Ford International Airport is where your experience begins. And everyone at the Ford International Airport works hard to make it the best experience possible.

This small hub served nearly 4 million passengers in 2023, a new record, reinforcing its status as the second busiest airport in Michigan. It's served by six airlines offering more than 100 daily flights and over 30 nonstop routes to destinations nationwide.

The Ford International Airport does all this while making travel better. Airports Council International named it the best airport in North America in its size category, as well as the cleanest and most enjoyable airport, the easiest airport journey and the airport with the most dedicated staff. It was also named America’s best small airport by USA Today.

Gerald R. Ford International Airport Concourse

Concourse A's expansion is just one of the many highlights of the airport's capital expansion program Elevate.

Photo by Bryan Esler for Gerald R. Ford International Airport

Public-private partnership leads vision to elevate and expand service

Managed and operated by the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority—a seven-member body appointed by Kent County and comprised of leaders from the public and private sectors—Ford International Airport is never short on vision.

Experience Grand Rapids president and CEO, Doug Small, has served on the Authority Board since January 2020 and was appointed vice chair in January 2023.

“I was privileged to join the board at a very exciting time when several construction projects, new initiatives, and route additions were underway,” said Small. “Our community is thriving. As head of our regional destination marketing agency, I see daily the critical role the Ford International Airport plays in the region’s growth and success.”

The Authority provides airport policy direction and oversight, and—in tandem with Ford International Airport Authority president and CEO, Tory Richardson, and his team—helps drive the mission to create an exceptional travel experience for passengers, and to drive growth and prosperity for all of West Michigan.

In pursuit of that mission, the Ford International Airport announced the Elevate expansion and improvement program in 2019.

Gerald R. Ford International Airport

The expansion of Concourse A included the addition of eight gates, several amenities and more, doubling its capacity.

Photo by Peter McCullough Photo for Gerald R. Ford International Airport

One of the biggest small-hub capital expansions in the U.S.

Bolstered in July 2022 by $8.6 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding, the Ford International Airport is undertaking one of the largest capital expansions in the U.S. for a small hub airport.

With a total estimated cost of $600 million, Elevate tower is aimed at further enhancing the guest experience and positioning the Airport for continued growth. (The Federal Aviation Administration has ranked Ford International Airport among the fastest-growing airports in the U.S. and Airport officials expect a continued 5% passenger growth through 2028 and beyond.) Elevate projects include:

  • Expansion and widening of Concourse A, including the addition of eight new gates, new concession and retail options and modern amenities.
  • Construction of Michigan’s first consolidated rental car facility.
  • Expansion of the terminal curb front to consolidate all ticketing counters, implement a checked baggage inspection system and create a larger baggage claim space with additional carousels.
  • Addition of a federal inspection station to support nonstop international commercial flights.
  • Relocation of the air traffic control tower to accommodate terminal-area developments.
  • Increased parking capacity with a North Lot garage.

Well underway, with $205 million in improvements made thus far, Elevate is a multi-phase program that will take place over the next 10 years. This initiative is estimated to help drive the Airport’s annual economic impact from $7.7 billion in 2023 to $10 billion by 2030.

At the same time, it will lower the Ford International Airport’s impact on the environment. Long committed to sustainable practices, the Ford International Airport is building new spaces that are efficient, long-lasting and environmentally responsible. Once the Concourse A expansion is complete, for instance, the building performance of the Ford International Airport targets a 70% energy reduction.

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Your travel experience will start when you arrive at Ford International Airport, which wants to be part of your journey – not simply a building.

Let the journey begin

So, the next time your journey includes the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, take a breath, and enjoy the experience.

As Jorge Barrero, principal at HKS and lead architect on the Concourse A expansion said, “Your travel experience will start when you arrive at Ford International Airport, which wants to be part of your journey – not simply a building.”