Austin airport is incredibly busy. Before the pandemic the main terminal expanded with 37% more gates. This summer the airport has 40% more seats scheduled than they did pre-pandemic.
This morning there were no rideshares to the airport. They were already heading to the airport. It took me 20 minutes to find one, and that car was coming from about 18 miles away. When we finally arrived at 6 a.m. I sent the driver down to departures because the line of cars was at a dead stop trying to enter the airport at the upper level for departures.
Here’s what it looked like – and backups were everywhere, reportedly people were abandoning rental cars and walking to the terminal in order to make their flights.
Never seen anything like this. Abandoned rental cars this far from drop off at Austin airport at 6:30 am. TSA lines are 3k deep, wrapped outside. Only reason we’re making flight is TSA Precheck. Ridiculous @AUStinAirport @Enterprise pic.twitter.com/qb3plAvhkv
— Kelly Williams Nagel (@kwnagel) March 28, 2022
TSA security lines were stretching throughout the airport. Even PreCheck lines were wrapped outside the airport. I was running late even with CLEAR and barely made my flight.
There was a PGA tournament on Sunday, and NASCAR as well, adding to the usual early morning traffic. Of course that’s no bigger than other times like the end of South By Southwest or UT Austin Spring Break. The airport isn’t big enough for the city, but it’s not just a question of size. The configuration of the airport is the biggest problem – once you made it through security, the airport was actually fairly quiet airside.
On top of it all, Austin’s airport declared a fuel shortage and told airlines to bring planes in with extra fuel in their tanks, or tanker fuel themselves.
The @AUStinAirport operates with 2 to 3 days worth of fuel supply when most airports of similar size operate with 5 to 7 days worth of fuel – which is why airport officials say a new fuel facility is desperately needed. @KVUE
— Bryce Newberry (@Bryce_Newberry) March 28, 2022
A planned jet fuel tank farm expansion project is stalled by local politics. The expansion had been viewed as a done deal but the issue of whether and how to move forward has been re-opened. What’s striking is that the airport doesn’t have enough fuel in March and will see even more flights with more seats that burn more fuel as we get further into the year. Fuel tank farm expansion can’t come soon enough.
Ultimately the airport will expand. The current plan involves scrapping the brand new low cost South Terminal and building remote concourses.
Our initial #AEDP projects will transform the Barbara Jordan Terminal through:
👮♂️ New passenger screening capacity
✈️New gate capacity
🧳A new baggage handling system
🎫Expanded ticket counters
While preparing for a new 10+ gate mid-field concourse. (2/3) pic.twitter.com/SECXEUmZfy
— Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) (@AUStinAirport) July 13, 2021