Austin airport saw record number of new flights in ’21 — here is what’s coming in ’22

It’s been a busy year at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

A record 35 new nonstop routes launched from ABIA in 2021, airport spokesperson Bailey Grimmett said.

Service launched this year to tropical destinations such as Honolulu, Hawaii; Nassau, Bahamas; Puerto Rico and Costa Rica. Flights also began to a slew of U.S. cities, such as Miami, Florida; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Louisville, Kentucky; Palm Springs, California; and Boise, Idaho.

And, in October, nonstop flights from Austin to London resumed after coming to a halt at the beginning of the pandemic.

More than 8.8 million travelers passed through the Austin airport from January to September, according to the latest airport data. It has been a steady recovery from the record lows seen in 2020. In July, 1,541,305 passengers used the airport — a level that hadn’t been seen since 2019, the airport’s busiest year on record.

Infographic: Travel activity at ABIA by month since 2017, showing 190% year-over-year growth in September 2021. 2021 figures are in red; 2020 figures are green; 2019 is purple; 2018 is blue and 2017 is orange.

This year, Allegiant Travel Co. (Nasdaq: ALGT) invested $75 million into an operations base at the South Terminal. Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air kicked off operations at the base in November, and will use the space as a daily hub for crews, maintenance personnel and three Airbus A320 aircraft.

2022 is likely to be another busy year for Austin-Bergstrom. Below, find information on new flights that have already been announced for the new year; more flights and investments are likely, as the Austin metro economy and population continue to grow at a rapid clip.

• Cozumel, Mexico: Beginning June 11, Southwest Airlines Co. will add another Caribbean destination to its flight schedule. On Saturdays, the Dallas-based airline (NYSE: LUV) will offer nonstop service to Cozumel, subject to government approval. Also in June, Southwest will resume travel between Austin and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and it will begin daily flights to Cabo San Lucas, after previously only flying on Saturdays, according to a Dec. 16 announcement.

• Amsterdam, Netherlands: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is resuming plans to offer nonstop flights to Amsterdam from ABIA beginning March 28, after the pandemic delayed the initial launch, according to past Austin Business Journal reporting. The new route will fly three times a week on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays between ABIA and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Flights will be on an Airbus A330-300 with a capacity of 292 seats.

• Ontario, California: Southwest will launch a nonstop flight between Austin and Ontario, California, on March 10. Ontario is located in San Bernadino County and is about 35 miles from downtown Los Angeles.

• Charleston, South Carolina: Nonstop flights from Austin to Charleston, South Carolina, will begin March 10, according to ABIA’s website. Southwest will offer the daily service, which will be the only local flight to the East Coast city.

• Columbus, Ohio: Beginning March 10, Southwest will add daily, nonstop routes between the Texas capital and Columbus, Ohio. Southwest will be the only airline flying between the two cities.

• Tulsa, Oklahoma: Southwest will launch once-daily, roundtrip flights between the Austin airport and Tulsa, Oklahoma, beginning April 25. Allegiant and Fort Worth-based American Airlines Group Inc. (Nasdaq: AAL) also launched service to Tulsa this year, creating the first nonstop connection between Austin and Tulsa since ViaAir briefly operated a route in 2018.

• Albuquerque, New Mexico: Beginning Jan. 4, American Airlines regional carrier, Envoy Airlines, will launch daily flights between Austin and Albuquerque. Southwest Airlines also offers daily flights between the two cities.

• Midland/Odessa and Amarillo, Texas: Daily, nonstop flights will launch March 10 from the Texas capital to Midland and Amarillo. Many economic development leaders have said Southwest’s future service to these two Texas cities will allow many to travel quickly across the state for business purposes.

In addition to adding flights, officials will also move forward in 2022 with the Airport Expansion and Development Program, which is expected to significantly increase capacity at Austin-Bergstrom. The plan calls for optimizing the Barbara Jordan Terminal; airfield and utility work; and development of a new midfield concourse with at least 10 gates.

That has put the airport at odds with the private company that operates the current South Terminal, which under the expansion plans would be demolished.

Additionally, construction will likely begin next spring on a 90,000-square-foot cargo facility that’s expected to help meet overflowing demand.

Construction is also expected to begin next year on American Airlines’ new lounge at the Barbara Jordan Terminal. The 15,000-square-foot lounge will seat more than 250 customers, which the airline says will make it the largest airport lounge in Austin. It will be located near Gate 14.

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