Albuquerque’s traffic is at its lowest level since 1990; Southwest Airlines is largest carrier, flying 55% of traffic in 2016 so far; Allegiant Air arrives

Albuquerque’s traffic is at its lowest level since 1990

Allegiant Air became the latest carrier to serve Albuquerque in June when it launched flights from Las Vegas and Austin-Bergstrom. In its first month of operation the carrier flew 5,096 passengers from the New Mexico airport, resulting in an average load factor of 93%.

Albuquerque is the largest city in the state of New Mexico. According to the United States Census Bureau’s 2014 population estimate, the city is home to around 557,000 inhabitants. In relation to just commercial passenger traffic, the city is served by Albuquerque International Sunport Airport. It should be noted that the city has another airport, Double Eagle II, however this is primarily general aviation.

2015 sees less passengers than 1990

Last year Albuquerque welcomed 4.75 million passengers, which means that in 2015 the airport welcomed -4.9% less passengers than it did in 1990. Since 2007, a year in which Albuquerque welcomed 6.67 million passengers, traffic has been declining at an average of 4.1% year-on-year. During the period analysed – January 1990 to June 2016 – the airport has welcomed 59.3 million passengers, with its record year in that time being 2007.

Chart: Albuquerque's overall traffic 1990-2016 Year-on-year growth

Source: Albuquerque Airport. *First six months only.

For the first half of 2016, Albuquerque has welcomed 2.22 million passengers. For the same period last year it witnessed 2.20 million passengers, meaning that for the first half of this year traffic is up 1.2%. One factor helping this growth is the arrival of Allegiant Air, which has opened flights to Albuquerque from Las Vegas and Austin-Bergstrom. When putting Albuquerque’s 2015 monthly passenger statistics into’s SVID (Seasonal Variation in Demand) calculator, it garners a score of 2.26 – a “Good” rating.

Southwest Airlines dominant carrier

Southwest Airlines is Albuquerque’s largest carrier. For the first half of this year the airline has carried just under 55% of all traffic. It is followed by American Airlines (20% of passengers in first half of 2016), United Airlines (11%), Delta Air Lines (9.5%), Alaska Airlines (2.3%), JetBlue Airways (1.8%), Boutique Air (0.3%) and Allegiant Air (0.2%).

Chart: Albuquerque's top airlines in 2016 Monthly passengers January - June 2016

Source: Albuquerque Airport.

Despite Southwest Airlines being the largest carrier operating from Albuquerque, it too has not dodged declining traffic. From January to June this year, America’s largest LCC has witnessed its traffic from the airport drop by 1.4% when compared to the same period of 2015. Only in January and February did the carrier welcome more passengers than in the same months as last year. The table below illustrates traffic development for each carrier for the first half of 2016 versus the same period of the year before.

Carrier Traffic in first half of 2016 Traffic in first half of 2015 Change in traffic Average LF for first half of 2016 Average LF for first half of 2015
Southwest Airlines 1,217,687 1,234,582 -1.4% 74.0% 73.1%
American Airlines 443,596 338,118 31.2% 77.8% 80.9%
United Airlines 246,198 206,323 19.3% 86.3% 81.5%
Delta Air Lines 210,414 208,929 0.7% 89.7% 90.6%
Alaska Airlines 52,199 41,767 25.0% 82.2% 84.2%
JetBlue Airways 40,734 34,340 18.6% 88.2% 82.9%
Boutique Air 5,947 3,358 77.1% 40.2% 29.2%
Source: Albuquerque Airport and OAG Schedules Analyser data.

The only carrier not included in the table is Allegiant Air which only launched flights to Albuquerque in June. In that first month of operations the airline flew 5,096 passengers from the New Mexico airport, resulting in an average load factor of 93%. That means that so far this year the airport’s newest carrier has achieved the best average load factor. In relation to Albuquerque’s existing airlines, it is Delta which has published the best average load factor. Nonetheless, the SkyTeam member’s average load factor has also declined during the past year.

Phoenix remains number one despite slump

Looking ahead to the upcoming winter season, Albuquerque will be linked to 25 non-stop destinations, one more than last winter. During the past year only one route has been dropped from the New Mexico airport, Los Alamos, a link that was operated by Boutique Air.

Despite the route facing a 0.8% decline in seat capacity, Phoenix remains Albuquerque’s number one destination. Along with Arizonan city, another three routes in the top 12 (all highlighted in light green) have recorded drops in capacity during the past 12 months.

Chart: Albuquerque's top 12 airports Monthly one-way seat capacity in W16/17

Source: OAG Schedules Analyser data November 2016.

Outside of the top 12 a further four routes are reporting capacity drops, namely: Salt Lake City (13th largest route; -1.0%); Minneapolis-St. Paul (20th; -4.8%); Silver City (23rd; -51%); and Carlsbad (24th; -49%). In relation to growth, four routes outside of the top 12 are showcasing double-digit growth, namely: Baltimore/Washington (15th; 29%); Kansas City (17th; 24%); New York JFK (19th; 19%); and San Francisco (21st; 25%).

Before the winter season commences, two new services will be launched from Albuquerque. Its newest carrier, Allegiant Air, will link the city to Los Angeles from 1 October. On the same day, Boutique Air will add flights to Alamosa in Colorado, its third route from Albuquerque after Carlsbad and Silver City. As well as this, Austin-Bergstrom will operate year-round instead of just in the summer season when referring to OAG schedules.

Albuquerque’s traffic is at its lowest level since 1990

Albuquerque this winter will be connected to 25 destinations non-stop, one more than the airport had in W15/16. The one route which has been dropped from the New Mexico airport is Los Alamos with Boutique Air, however the carrier will add flights to Alamosa on 1 October. Although it is not a new route, OAG schedules show that Austin-Bergstrom is now a year-round destination from Albuquerque instead of just a summer seasonal route.


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