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."
Whether it’s by car or bus, chances are you’ll have to travel through some highway traffic to reach San Antonio.
But Elon Musk proposed a different transportation method this week by tweeting about maybe having a hyperloop demo tunnel between Austin and the Alamo City. The hyperloop, as Musk’s Boring Company envisions, is a high-speed transportation system that involves passengers traveling in autonomous electric pods at 600+ miles per hour.
\u201cWould be cool to do a (much simplified) Hyperloop demo tunnel between maybe Austin & San Antonio?\u201d— Elon Musk (@Elon Musk) 1520657768
Musk claims it is “the fastest way to get between one downtown and another with known physics,” though if it were approved, the timeline for accomplishing it is unclear. In Las Vegas, where Boring tunnels recently got approval to expand, passengers on the 1.7 mile tunnels beneath the city’s convention center reported traffic backups.
He floated the idea in a reply to a larger Twitter thread that began in 2018 with a poll on tunnels. “Impossible pipedream, stupid hole in ground or both?” he asked his followers. 62% voted both.
The hyperloop proposal comes at a time when Texas State Highway 130, a road stretching north of Austin to Seguin, is gaining popularity over I-35 after the toll road’s traffic reached an all-time high last year.
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Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is getting $15 million to help advance the much-needed airport expansion.
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett announced Thursday morning that the airport would receive the funds as part of President Joe Biden’s new Infrastructure Law, which will direct billions of dollars to transportation upgrades, widespread high-speed internet access and investments in clean energy.
The $15 million, from the Airport Terminal Program, is in addition to the $17.3 million that the Infrastructure Law provided to the airport late last year. The airport anticipates the overall expansion to cost $4 billion.
“In order for Austin to be the international city—the hub of education, culture, and technology—that I know we are, our institutions and our infrastructure must be properly equipped to support world-class endeavors and worldwide visitors,” Doggett said in a statement.
The airport has seen substantial growth post-pandemic, reaching all-time traffic high in May. According to ABIA officials, the airport saw more than 2 million passengers come through the terminal, 82% more than in May 2021.
The funds will go toward increasing the square footage of the Barbara Jordan terminal—which would add new gates, waiting spaces and TSA checkpoints—to meet growing passenger demand.
“While our most immediate need has been for more Transportation Service Administration (TSA) resources to prevent more long lines and baggage issues, these infrastructure funds will help in expanding our airport to meet the demands of both our growing population and our growing role as an international gateway city,” Doggett said.
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