A small private plane with a flat tire delayed flights out of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport for several hours on Sunday evening.
The airplane, which busted its tire shortly before 6 p.m., was towed off the south end of the west side runway around 9 p.m.
During those hours it blocked part of the airport's only remaining runway, as the other has been temporarily closed for maintenance.
The blockage primarily impacted inbound flights, ABIA spokeswoman Mandy McClendon said. It also caused diversions for internal Texas flights.
Some travelers affected by the delays took to social media.
@bravogolf @AUStinAirport Do you know what took so long? I was on a flight that got diverted back to DFW 3 minutes… https://t.co/dkEN8Py6Ha— Doug Hjornevik (@Doug Hjornevik) 1606113731.0
@JamesMendezATX @JackFromHawaii @AUStinAirport @SouthwestAir Safe but real mad once I found out reason. Someone sho… https://t.co/hBrksrbWtJ— Doug Hjornevik (@Doug Hjornevik) 1606120603.0
More than one million people traveled by plan in the U.S. on Sunday, according to TSA checkpoint travel numbers. This represents less than half the number of fliers who traveled on the same day last year.
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With major entertainment events slated for October, the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is gearing up for a busy month.
Artists and music lovers are set to pack into Zilker Park for The Austin City Limits Music Festival in the coming two weekends. Following that, Formula One will bring racing fans to the Circuit of the Americas.
For those two events, the airport is anticipating high passenger days with 30,000 or more people departing flights.
ABIA recommends arriving at least two and a half hours in advance for domestic flights on those days. For ACL, it's expected on both Sundays of the festival along with the Monday and Tuesday after. The F1-driven high passenger days are expected on Oct. 20-21 and Oct. 23-26.
\u201c#AustinCityLimits visitors, you\u2019re in for a weird and wild ride \ud83e\udd18\u262e\ufe0f \n\nFlying in or out of our airport? We got firm and fun tips for you: https://t.co/RawVRalOXN\u201d— Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) (@Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)) 1664894083
F1, especially, could draw in loads of travelers as the three-day event saw 400,000 attendees last year. ABIA warns that highways leading to the airport may see even higher traffic than usual around the event and that travelers should plan their route accordingly.
Bailey Grimmett, a spokesperson for ABIA, said travel numbers come in 24 hours in advance. So, it's hard to predict if the airport will see travel volumes at the same levels that have happened around previous F1 races or if it'll top ACL's flight traffic.
Still, she says historical knowledge points to a chance for it.
“We've had that Monday after F1 break the record for single busiest in airport history," Grimmett said. "So context clues I would say yes, but I can't confirm that. But the historical background points to that."
In anticipation of the high volume of flyers, the airport received additional TSA officers for security screening through the end of October. To prepare even further, the Department of Aviation and partners hosted a job showcase and hiring fair to address the continued labor shortage the airport has experienced.
Relief from hectic travel days is on the horizon with November likely to see a slowdown.
"I don't anticipate it will be as busy as October just because we don't have as many events going on," Grimmett said. "Thanksgiving is kind of our primary holiday that we see a lot of passengers coming in and out of the airport."