By Natalie Croutharmel, Director of Business Retention & Expansion
My favorite moment in my role as the Austin Chamber liaison to Austin–Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) is happening right now: celebrating a record-breaking year and preparing for new air service for 2015. A great deal of preparation goes into new air service — gathering an abundance of data, creating a business case for Austin, and educating the Central Texas business community on what this might mean for Austin air service in the next few years.
Developing a new route is a challenging process, and I can’t help but to think back to the stories I’ve heard about the introductory conversations ABIA had with British Airways in 2003, and how that relationship took years to develop before we were able to land the route. The Central Texas community was also doubtful about the vitality of the destination in the beginning. Now, British Airways’ 787 Dreamliner is the topic of choice for most Austinites and this first intercontinental and transatlantic flight provided an economic impact of more than $70 million, as well as, 1,100 jobs.
It’s exciting to be a part of these conversations that could change Austin dramatically – for the better, of course. We’re increasing connectivity and making Austin an international destination. In preparing for my upcoming meetings, I’m reminded of how successful 2014 was for Air Service in Austin. Here are a few takeaways from last year:
Air Service Re-Cap
In 2008, the Austin Chamber of Commerce created the Air Service Task Force to assist the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) with recruitment and retention of air service to Central Texas. Comprised of industry, education and aviation partners, this task force advocates for additional infrastructure to the airport, additional nonstop flights, and additional carriers to diversify ABIA.
As a result of our efforts, along with immense local business support, ABIA saw record-breaking passenger numbers in 2014, with more than 10.7 million travelers. This is the fourth consecutive year ABIA has set a record for passenger traffic and the airport will continue to grow from here with routes, carriers and infrastructure.
Austin is seeing the most air service growth in the entire Texas triangle — only one medium hub airport in the continental U.S. grew faster than ABIA. There is a current net gain of 4 nonstop destinations per year, with the number of transatlantic passengers up 38% in the last 5 years, and the number of transpacific passengers up 24% in the last 4 years. However, the Austin Transpacific market is running about 10 years behind the transatlantic market.
This year, we saw Austin’s first transatlantic nonstop flight to London make history for our region and put Austin on the map as an international destination. Other nonstop international destinations at ABIA include Toronto, Cabo and Cancun. We continue to seek new opportunities to diversify our airport.
2014 Air Service Announcements
- Air Canada
- May 2015: Toronto-Pearson (YYZ)
- February 2015: Orlando-Sanford (SFB)
- American Airlines
- Branson Air Express
- British Airways
- June 2015: Los Angeles (LAX)
- Southwest Airlines
- June 2015: St. Louis (STL) and Orange County (SNA)
- Texas Sky
- November 2014: New carrier; service to DFW and Victoria (VCT)
In my next blog, I’ll highlight some of the Air Service Goals for 2015.
Natalie Croutharmel, Director of Business Retention & Expansion
In her role as Director of Business Retention & Expansion (BR&E) for the Austin Chamber, Natalie’s goal is to match existing companies with the resources within Central Texas to promote economic growth and job creation. As part of the Economic Development team, Natalie is tasked with assisting the retention and growth of businesses currently located in the greater Austin region from start-up through maturity. For any assistance with your existing Central Texas company and/or air service inquiries, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.