SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco International Airport (SFO) announced that a project to improve its runways that was planned for 2022 will be moved up to October 2020 in light of the reduced flight activity due to COVID-19, according to a statement from the airport released on Wednesday, August 26. 

The project, in charge of Golden Gate Constructors, consists in repaving the intersection of runway 28R with runway 1R and 1L. Airport officials said that they were going to take advantage of this period in which airlines are planning to operate 40% of their flights in order to reduce the delays and cancellations that could be caused by the project. 

The improvement will require the SFO to close two of its four runways for eight days which will constrain the airport’s capacity for arrivals and departures. Airport officials said that during this period, they expect about 30% of the flights to experience delays. They advised travelers to fly early during that time because flights from 9 a.m.–12 p.m. and from 5–8 p.m. are expected to be more impacted by the project. All of the runways will reopen on October 16. 

In an interview with San Francisco News, Doug Yakel, public information officer for the SFO, said that workers will be required to wear face masks and to practice physical distancing as part of the health protocols that will be in effect during the project.

Yakel added that this project will help maintain the safety in the runway system at the airport. 

“This project will ensure the safety and long-term durability of one of the busiest areas of the runway system at SFO,” he said. “It will reduce the likelihood of unplanned runway closures due to unexpected pavement failures, which often cause unplanned delays and cancellations.”

The improvement of the runways is estimated to cost $10 million. Yakel stated that the SFO anticipates to receive funds from federal grant programs to cover the project expenses. The remaining costs will be paid using airport revenue bonds.