Austin-Bergstrom celebrates 10th anniversary; new Alaska Airlines services will help attract ACI delegates to October conference

Image: Lee Leffingwell
Wearing ribbons to commemorate the airport’s 10th anniversary: Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell; Bruce Todd (former Mayor) and John Almond (former ABIA director).

Logo: Aus-TenPromoting itself as ‘The Live Music Capital of the World”, the city of Austin in Texas is served by Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) which this May celebrated its 10th anniversary. The airport used to be the home of Bergstrom Air Force Base but when the decision was made to close the base in 1991 Austin decided to move its main airport from the constrained Robert Mueller Municipal Airport to the former air base. Last year the airport handled over nine million passengers for the first time.

Chart: Austin - Bergstrom traffic 1999-2008
Source: ABIA

Between 2003 and 2008 traffic grew by 35%. Although traffic grew by 1.7% in 2008 passenger numbers have been in decline since last September. In the first five months of 2009 traffic has declined year-on-year by 14.5%. The airline has lost a number of services during the last 12 months which are summarised below.

Gained None
Lost ABQ (ExpressJet), CLE (Continental), CVG (Delta), IND (Northwest), JAX (ExpressJet), JFK (Delta), LAS (US Airways), LAX (United), MAF (Southwest), MCI (Midwest), MSY (ExpressJet), ONT (ExpressJet), RDU (American), SEA (American), SNA (American), TUS (ExpressJet)
Source: Derived from OAG Max Online for w/c 7 July 2008 and w/c 6 July 2009
Image: South Terminal

ExpressJet abandoned their ‘own-brand’ flying in early September 2008. In addition in May 2008 Mexican LCC vivaaerobus began (and subsequently dropped) flights to Cancun and Monterrey, and also began Puerto Vallarta flights in early 2009 which have also been discontinued. They were the first airline to use the specially developed low-cost terminal known as South Terminal Austin. This July the airport has direct services to 36 destinations (35 in the US and Toronto) compared with over 50 a year ago.

Image; Map

Southwest leading airline with 18 routes

All of the major US airlines have a presence in Austin with the exception of AirTran. Southwest has for many years been the leading carrier and has consistently accounted for around 35% of the airport’s passenger traffic. It currently serves 18 destinations non-stop from the airport.

Chart: Austin-Bergstrom traffic 2007-08
Source: ABIA

American has consistently been the second busiest airline at the airport and currently serves five destinations, with its base at Dallas/Fort Worth served by over 100 weekly departures. However, in the last 12 months the airline has axed three routes (to Raleigh/Durham, Santa Ana and Seattle) and will be ending San Jose services in September.

The two leading low-cost airlines in the US, jetBlue and Southwest, compete head-to-head on routes from Austin to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. The most competitive route at present is Denver which is served by Frontier, Southwest and United.

Air Canada is now the only non-US carrier and its service from Toronto is currently the airport’s only scheduled international service, after the disappearance of vivaaerobus’ Mexican routes.

Coming soon the Alaska ‘Nerd Bird’ and ACI Conference

Image: ACI-NAAlthough American will be ending its service to San Jose at the end of August, Alaska Airlines will be stepping in to replace them from 2 September. Since the service connects two high-tech markets the flight is known as the “Nerd Bird”. Before that it will be launching its first flights to the airport from Seattle, another route that used to be served by American.

These new services will help to attract delegates from all over the US to the ACI North America Annual Conference & Exhibition which takes place in the city’s Convention Centre from 11-14 October.

Image: Southwest
Southwest carries 37% of all ABIA passengers. In 2008 the carrier started non-stops from Philadelphia, Fort Lauderdale and Oakland.


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