MSP Newsletter, April 2020

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MSP accelerates certain construction projects as crowds thin

Construction crews at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) are using the opportunity created by fewer passengers coming through Terminal 1 to accelerate some essential projects.

At the front of Terminal 1, the ongoing expansion and renovation of that space includes a wide range of improvements. New flooring, larger baggage claim carousels, exterior walls pushed out to create more interior space, and new elevators and escalators are among the upgrades.

The overall renovation project began three years ago, and the portions currently under construction had contracts approved and work underway before COVID-19 surfaced to slow airport traffic.

“The work we’re doing now inconveniences fewer passengers and moves these projects closer to completion for that time when traffic does return to normal,” said Heather Leide, the Metropolitan Airports Commission’s director of airport development.


Crews work on new terrazzo flooring in Terminal 1.

New terrazzo flooring is being installed in stages in Terminal 1, and the amount of flooring currently being resurfaced has been increased to get the work done sooner.

Earlier this month, the south skyway leading from the ticketing lobby to Terminal 1’s Gold parking ramp re-opened, and the last of the new elevators serving the front of Terminal 1 began operating, bringing the total to six.

Terminal 1’s renovation work also involves new, larger baggage carousels on the baggage claim level. Currently, carousels 6 and 8 are being replaced simultaneously, instead of one at a time, to accelerate that part of the project. When complete, the baggage claim level will also have a new coffee shop and new restrooms, some of which are already open.

On Concourse G, a project that infills space for an expansion and constructs the shell of a new Delta Sky Club is off to a faster start than anticipated, due to the lower passenger traffic.

The public portion of the expansion includes upgraded restrooms, new moving walkways and the redevelopment of concession space.

“We have put many capital projects and purchases on hold due to the very significant financial impacts of the pandemic on the Commission,” said MAC CEO Brian Ryks. “There are other key projects like the Terminal 1 renovations, which were already underway or which it makes sense to move forward with from a financial or operational perspective. Ultimately our goal is to balance the need to decrease spending during a period of greatly reduced revenues with the need to have facilities ready when the nation and the globe is finally able to move beyond the current crisis.”

Ryks noted that continuing certain key capital improvement projects also helps support the local economy. “Historically, airport improvement projects, which often surpass $200 million a year in total, are a major driver of revenues in the local construction industry. To the extent we are able to keep some projects moving forward, we continue to support workers in the construction industry, which also has been hard hit by COVID-19 impacts.”

Another project, in this case led by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, has seen a great start to the reconstruction of Hwy. 5 from I-494 to Hwy. 62, which provides access to Terminal 1’s inbound roadway.

The roadwork involves reconstructing and resurfacing Hwy. 5, including work on 12 bridges, and is scheduled for completion in October.

There are detours and ramp closures associated with the project. For information on how to plan your trip, go to

Tips for those still traveling through MSP

aircraft flying into MSP

The travel experience at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) has changed in the COVID-19 era. One thing that remains the same, though, is the presence of airport employees and airline staff, ready to provide you the services you’re accustomed to and help you remain as safe as possible during your trip.

With your needs in mind, we’ve put together an updated Travel Tips page to help you navigate your way through MSP during this unique period of time.

Visit the new web page for the latest information and links to more information that will aid your journey.

MSP essential employees remain on the job

Shay MAC plumber

There are comparatively few passengers at MSP Airport due to COVID-19, but hundreds of airport workers are still on site each day, providing essential services and staying safe with social distancing and other measures.

“Air transportation is an essential service and plays a key role in moving personnel and equipment critical in the fight against the pandemic to the places they need to be,” said Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) CEO Brian Ryks. “Even with the volume of passengers down 95 percent, our organization still needs to work with our public- and private-sector partners to ensure flight operations continue.”

Pictured: Shay Christian, a plumber with the MAC trades department.

MAC employees vital to the daily operation of the airport include everyone from the police and fire departments to divisions that keep the two terminals and the airfield operating -- and ready to be utilized to their full capacity when passengers return.

Also still present each day at the airport are airline ticket agents, flight crews, airport concessions employees, cleaning contractors, air traffic controllers, security screening officers, customs officials, and a wide variety of other workers who keep air service running smoothly and ensure travelers have what they need.

For almost all of those employees, their daily routines have changed significantly. A few examples follow.

Touch-point cleaning emphasized

One modification that happened in March included a new cleaning protocol for MSP’s janitorial staff.

Touch-point cleaning is a high priority now throughout the two terminals, with attention to surfaces including door handles, directory screens, handrails, elevator buttons, locks on restroom stalls and courtesy phones.

At the MAC facilities office at Terminal 1, staff are now on a rotating schedule to reduce the number of people in the office. Repairs are requested by phone or email, and keys and paperwork are passed back and forth through a mail slot in the office door, which is kept closed.

“We’re going to keep things going and keep rolling so when more people do start traveling again, MSP will be ready to go,” said Shannon Gale, the MAC’s assistant manager of facilities at Terminal 1.

Throughout the terminals, a teamwork approach has kept operations running smoothly, including the staff at the MAC’s Energy Management Center, which handles climate control in MAC facilities and is on site 24/7.

“Everybody’s been on the same page, working to keep employees and travelers safe while continuing to maintain services,” said Scott Skramstad, assistant director of operations at Terminal 1. 

field maintenance social distancing

Field maintenance and other departments find ways to social distance

The MAC’s field maintenance department has just over 100 full-time employees who keep the airfield, roadways and parking ramps in top shape, and they got creative to ensure social distancing. That started with modifications of shift schedules to keep workers spread out.

“We also set up five different break spaces, and the break times are staggered,” said Mark Rudolph, manager of field maintenance planning. Maintenance vehicles are limited to just the driver, and touch points in each vehicle are cleaned at the start of each shift.

Pictured above: Social distancing in the field maintenance break room.

MAC mechanics service vehicles in the field maintenance facility on 28th Avenue, and the driver is required to disinfect surfaces before the shop supervisor brings any vehicle inside for repair.

The MAC’s airside operations office also remains staffed, coordinating activity on the airfield.


At the MAC’s trades department -- which has 49 employees working as painters, carpenters, plumbers and electricians – staff are still out in buildings making repairs on a daily basis.

“We’re using texts, emails and phone calls to communicate our daily work orders instead of morning crew meetings,” said Adrian Kregness, manager of the trades department. 

Pictured: The new Plexiglas barriers in the Federal Inspection Station at Terminal 1.

Carpenters have installed automatic towel dispensers in restrooms in several MAC facilities to reduce touch points, and they’ve also installed Plexiglas sneeze barriers on the MAC Badging Office’s service counter.

Working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, MAC carpenters have also installed similar Plexiglas barriers in the Federal Inspection Services stations at both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Plexiglas barriers are also planned at the passenger information booth on Terminal 1’s tram level and the booth at Terminal 2.

At Terminal 2, MAC operations staff work single-person shifts with minimal overlap, while also maintaining appropriate social distance.

“We’re working with partners and stakeholders to make sure the travelers who pass through the terminal still receive the services they need,” said Dan Foster, assistant director of operations.

“We’re also looking forward, toward the recovery, and thinking about how things might function differently when traffic picks up again."

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MSP's commitment to sustainability extends beyond Earth Day

earth week logo msp

MSP Airport employees take actions, large and small, every day to advance sustainable practices.

As Earth Day draws near, the airport's commitment to sustainability continues to show up in statistics that capture day-to-day operations.

2019 MSP Sustainability Highlights

Last year MSP food and beverage concessionaires helped reduce waste by donating 56,191 pounds of ready-to-eat food to Loaves and Fishes, a local nonprofit that provides free, healthy meals in 11 urban, suburban and rural counties in Minnesota.

Through a program overseen by MAC Solid Waste Specialist Lewis Segl, those same concessionaires separated 241 tons of organic material from their solid waste stream. The material was taken to a Minnesota facility to become compost. Thousands of gallons of used cooking oil were collected as well, and sent on for processing into biofuel.

Numerous deliveries take place at MSP every day, the majority of them arriving on pallets.

Last year, the MAC collected 18,488 pallets so that they could be re-used rather than being recycled.

Recycling remains important, and 1,640 tons of mixed recyclables – including paper, cans, bottles and plastics – were collected at MSP last year and sent on to become new materials and products.

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REAL ID deadline extended due to COVID-19

real id

Responding to COVID-19 public health concerns, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is extending the deadline for obtaining a REAL ID to Oct. 1, 2021.

That's a year beyond the previously scheduled deadline.

More information about the extension can be found at this link.

Also, Minnesota's Department of Public Safety has suspended operations at driver's license exam and renewal stations, including the kiosk that was opened at MSP Airport to process REAL ID applications. Information about the suspension of services is available here.

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