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Image for article titled F1 Helps Break Passenger Records for Austin-Bergstrom Airport

Photo: Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire (Getty Images)

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport had an eventful year before October. Serving the Texas capital has been a challenge dealing with the same flight delays, cancellations and staff shortages impacting nearly every other airport across the country. On top of that, Austin-Bergstrom nearly ran out of jet fuel in the spring. The airport even suffered a three-hour power outage last month. However, Austin-Bergstrom is also seeing its passenger numbers rocket past pre-pandemic levels and now breaking records, mainly due to Formula 1’s United States Grand Prix this past weekend.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport opened in 1999, and the profile of Austin as a city has dramatically changed since then. Most importantly for potential tourists from overseas, the FIA Formula One World Championship began racing annually in Austin in 2012. A decade and a hit Netflix docuseries later, this year’s United States Grand Prix attracted over 440,000 fans to the Circuit of the Americas over the race weekend. That number of people converging on a metropolitan area of 2.3 million drastically impacted its transportation infrastructure.

On Monday, 43,177 passengers departed on flights from Austin-Bergstrom, a new record for the airport. KXAN reported that the new record broke the previous record (set only last week) by over 7,800 passengers. That record was set the day after the second weekend of the Austin City Limits music festival. When Austin-Bergstrom opened in 1999, the airport was designed to handle 11 million passengers annually, or 30,137 passengers per day. That’s quite the influx.

A major expansion for Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, called AUS 2040 Master Planwill add a 20-gate concourse expansion, effectively doubling the airport’s current passenger capacity up to over 31 million passengers annually. With the Circuit of the Americas signing a five-year deal to remain on the Formula 1 calendar, I don’t expect the air travel demand to Austin to diminish anytime soon, so AUS will need all the help it can get.

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