Planespotting: AIBA Data Dissected
The second weekend of the 2016 Austin City Limits Festival means that the next few days at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport will likely be brutal. Our advice is to plan ahead for fewer available parking spots and for a congested passenger pick-up area — you should also anticipate longer than average lines at all TSA security checkpoints.
But longer lines this weekend stand somewhat in contrast to overall airport traffic figures released on Wednesday, October 5. These figures reveal that total ABIA passenger traffic for August 2016 was down 0.8% as compared to August 2015. The August decrease mirrors what ABIA saw in July 2016 — which was the first month in more than four years that passenger traffic did not exceed the total for the previous year.
Analyzing these August 2016 figures, one finds that the biggest contributor for this decline was the 7% drop in United Airlines passengers as compared to one year ago. The loss of their flight to Love Field in Dallas means that Virgin America also saw a big drop — down 31% as compared to a year ago. Although Virgin’s total volume (14,906 passengers) is much smaller than United’s total volume (166,186 passengers). Other carriers seeing a drop in August 2016 volume were Delta (down 1%) and Frontier (down 17%).
Whether these ABIA figures mean that Austin’s meteoric growth pattern of the last few years is beginning to crest remains to be seen. If these growth rates are beginning to slow, then this give city leaders more breathing room to catch up on the many improvements needed to optimize the Austin experience. Catching our breath is probably a good thing.