Major US Airports That are Growing, Those that Aren’t, and Why

Airline Weekly ran stats this week on the major US airports that are growing the most — and those that aren’t growing at all.

Here are the airports with the biggest year-over-year growth.

Dallas Love Field and Seattle should both come as no surprise. The end of the Wright Amendment in Dallas means airlines can fly to many more destinations. Indeed, airlines have greater demand to fly from the airport than the legal limit on gates there can support. And Seattle is seeing a massive buildup in flights by Delta, growth that is fueling even more flights from Alaska Airlines.

My home airport of Austin is building more gates, though perhaps not enough to support anticipated growth. It now has a British Airways flight to London that’s been upgauged from a Boeing 787 to a 777. It will get a Germany flight. The city itself has seen tremendous growth. Although big growth has been tried here before, such as when United built a focus city which was then scaled back.

I was surprised to see the growth in Maui. Southwest is building up Indianapolis, Orlando is seeing low cost carrier growth, and JetBlue is building up Fort Lauderdale (as well as it being a major ultra low cost carrier operation) as the gateway to South Florida that doesn’t incur the impossibly high costs of Miami.

Southwest Airlines at Philadelphia

Here are the major airports that aren’t growing at all.

Philadephia doesn’t seem to be getting the love from American that it did from US Airways management prior to the merger. St. Louis isn’t growing as a Southwest connecting hub given the focus on Love Field. This flatline is after shuttering much of the airport — there’s a concourse being used for charters only, and portions of the C and D concourses have been shut down completely.

United has cut back a bit at Washington Dulles. And American — while still sending significant connecting traffic through Charlotte — no longer needs to be running as many international flights out of the airport. And Airline Weekly describes San Antonio, Houston, and Kansas City as “victim of Wright Amendment’s end.”

Washington Dulles Check-in Counters

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Not sure how SAT is affected by the Wright amendment, but surprised that STL (and for that matter MCI) hasn’t been hit worse. MCI and STL were pretty significant through cities for WN.

  2. Charlotte — no longer needs to be running as many international flights out of the airport. Except the fact CLT hasn’t seen any international cuts, beside Ottawa, since 2013. We still have service to 8 European destinations and we had a capacity upguage last year with all Euro flights being on A330s. Charlotte is still a major international hub for AA, I hate it when bloggers write bs when it’s not true.

  3. Man…Austin has been bursting at the seems for years a few decades now. I am reminded of why I moved out of Austin every time I visit and get stuck in traffic at 2 pm on a Saturday.

  4. SAT has suffered from a long-time lack of visionary and imaginative local leadership. SAT is another one of those convenient in-town airports many hate to give up for a larger, more distant facility. But the airport cannot grow beyond its current size because it is surrounded by dense development. At one point in the distant past there was a proposal to build a large regional airport between AUS and SAT to serve both cities. AUS civic leaders were all for it but the SAT local leaders dug in their heels and nothing came of it. Then there was the proposal to convert a decommissioned airbase into a larger international airport. That too was opposed because it was on the “wrong” side of town. San Antonio finally woke up when one of its largest local employers, ATT, decided to move corporate headquarters to Dallas, citing poor air service as a primary reason for the move. But by then all options for relocation or expansion had been closed off.

  5. Funny how MCI, STL, PHL and CLT used to all be hubs for AA legacy carriers. I doubt we’ll see much growth here at MCI but Spirit and Frontier seem to think it’s a pretty good place to move flights through. STL has a problem in that the newer E or East terminal where WN flies out of is really too small for the traffic they have and the other old (AA/TWA hub) terminals are much too big. At least STL still has an AA lounge unlike MCI.

  6. JetAway said it best about SAT. Being in San Antonio, it is maddening trying to find connections to make that saver award all the way to Europe. They have renovated SAT, and it is still so behind AUS or Love Field. At least we have the Spurs….

  7. I worry about AA’s commitment to PHL as an international hub. I like it 100X better than Charlotte and 1000X better than the crazy AA “connection” at LGA-JFK.

    IAD is so miserable it also just lost most Frontier flights. United has to decide if it wants to keep IAD as an international hub so close to Newark or not. IAD is in the middle of one of the fastest-growing, richest and business-centered locations in the USA and it’s so awful it’s declining.

  8. Watching UA cut back flights at IAD in favor of increasing them at EWR is insane. IAD is bad enough, but EWR is the pits – not even half an avocado. UA has also essentially stopped flying out of MHT to IAD, forcing me to drive the extra hour to BOS, only to fly from there to EWR to connect to Asia, South America or Europe. A pox on that crummy airline!

  9. I knew Austin would be here lol. Our city is growing. Everything…jobs, restaurants, traffic on I-35 (which is sad) and our airport too. I live here. Can’t wait for this airport to become bigger so that I don’t have to drive all the way to DFW to fly international or cheap lol.

  10. Though American seems to be resuming/beginning a few flights from PHL recently, and Charlotte’s very small Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) has got American commencing new routes there as well.

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