Austin Bergstrom International Airport
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, or ABIA, also known as AUS, is a Class C international airport serving the greater Austin, Texas, metropolitan area.
In 1942, the city of Austin purchased land and donated it to the US Federal government on the condition that the land would be returned to the city when it was no longer needed. This, no doubt, was in response to the WWII efforts. This became Bergstrom Airforce Base in honor of John August Earl Bergstrom, the first Austinite killed fighting in WWII (he was killed in the Philippines in 1941). The military base continued operations until 1995 and kept this name until the end. In the 1970s, it became apparent that the city was outgrowing its old airport, the Robert Mueller Municipal Airport. There were various suggestions, including a joint airport in conjunction with Bergstrom Airforce Base, which was promptly rejected by the military as being too disruptive to its operations. Another option flaunted and approved in the late 1980s was a site near Manor, which was approved but was subsequently derailed due to lawsuits regarding environmental concerns. Fortunately, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission selected Bergstrom Airforce Base for closure in 1991, which gave the city of Austin the green light to turn it into a civilian airport. The city decided to abandon its plans for Manor, and instead, plans were put forth for a $585 million plan for the new airport. The groundbreaking was in November 1994. In October 1995, construction on the new 277-foot control tower began, the completion of which allowed Air Force One to land, thus making President Bill Clinton the first passenger to arrive at the new airport. The original runway was kept intact, although the secondary runway was demolished in order to allow new sections of the taxiway to connect the main runway to the terminals. As such, a new secondary runway was built. Most of the old military buildings, as well as the old control tower, were demolished in order to make room for the new terminal and parking facilities. Notably, a section of the tarmac northeast of the primary runway was kept intact and became the foundation for the new airport's freight terminal. The Mueller Municipal Airport closed in 1999, when Bergstrom assumed its IATA code of AUS. Austin-Bergstrom opened to the public on May 23rd, 1999. Its Barbara Jordan passenger terminal covered 660,000 square feet and featured 24 contact gates with jet bridges and one without a jet bridge. Initially, there were many nonstop flights from the Dallas/Wort Worth metroplex, 42 a day, to be exact. This was due to American Airlines trying to match Southwest's scheduled flights between Dallas Love Field and Austin.
In more recent times, Austin's economic boom has meant that AUS is now seeing more nonstop flights than before (as airlines have been flying in directly instead of routing passengers through hubs in Dallas and Houston). In 2015 the terminal's first expansion was completed, allowing for up to 600 passengers per hour to be processed. It also featured two new domestic baggage claim belts and a new security checkpoint. In 2019, a major $350 million expansion to the terminal's east side was completed, adding nine new gates to the existing 24. These new gates are spread farther apart, allowing them to handle narrow and wide-body aircraft. In March 2014, British Airways inaugurated the airport's first transatlantic flight to London Heathrow. While AUS had initially taken a hit due to COVID-19, American Airlines' desire to compete with Southwest caused it to increase its direct flights between Austin and major airports rather than focusing on its hubs as it had in the past. This has substantially increased the number of flights serviced by the airport. Furthermore, American is also in the process of building a 15,000-square-foot Admiral's Club lounge.
The airport is located 5 miles southeast of downtown Austin.
- There are plans for a significant expansion in the coming years, allowing AUS to service 31 million passengers by 2040 (as opposed to the 11 million upon opening in 1999).
- The Barbara Jordan terminal has a live music stage for local bands to perform on, as Austin is the self-proclaimed "The Live Music Capital of the World."
- The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority operates Route 20 from the arrival level every 15 minutes.
- There is a second terminal, known as the South Terminal, which is used by ultra-low-cost carriers Frontier Airlines and Allegiant Air. There is a shuttle service connecting the two terminals.
- The airport covers 4,242 acres and has two runways and three helipads.
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