Albuquerque International Sunport

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For the USAF use of this facility, see Kirtland Air Force Base. For the former airport serving Albuquerque, see Oxnard Field.
Albuquerque International Sunport
Airport type Public
Owner City of Albuquerque
Operator Albuquerque Aviation Department
Serves Albuquerque, New Mexico, US
Location 2200 Sunport Boulevard SE
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 5,355 ft / 1,632 m
Coordinates 35°02′21.6″N 106°36′38.8″W / 35.039333°N 106.610778°W / 35.039333; -106.610778
ABQ is located in New Mexico
Location of the Albuquerque International Sunport
Direction Length Surface
ft m
3/21 10,000 3,048 Concrete
8/26 13,793 4,204 Concrete
12/30 6,000 1,829 Concrete
Statistics (2012, 2014)
Aircraft operations (2014) 130,002
Based aircraft (2012) 172
Passengers (2014) 4,871,901
Sources: airport website[1] and FAA[2]

Albuquerque International Sunport (IATA: ABQICAO: KABQFAA LID: ABQ) is a public airport 3 miles (5 km) southeast of downtown Albuquerque, in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, United States.[2] It is the largest commercial airport in the state, handling 4,871,901 passengers in 2014.[3] The airport serves Albuquerque and Santa Fe (also served by Santa Fe Municipal Airport).


Albuquerque in the 1930s was served by two private airports, West Mesa Airport and Oxnard Field. Around 1935 it was suggested that the city build a new public airport using WPA money. Having secured US$520,500 in funding, Governor Clyde Tingley broke ground for the project on February 28, 1937. Albuquerque Municipal Airport opened in 1939 with two paved runways, a Pueblo Style terminal building designed by Ernest Blumenthal, and a massive hangar designed to accommodate the new Boeing 307.[4]

The April 1957 OAG shows 31 weekday departures: 13 on Continental, 12 TWA and 6 Frontier.

The present terminal was designed by William E. Burk Jr.[5] and built in 1965 just east of the original terminal. It has been expanded twice, in 1989, which was designed by Phillip Jacobson and BPLW Associates[5] and in 1996. The old terminal has been restored and houses offices of the Transportation Security Administration. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

Military facilities and operations[edit]

The Sunport began a new role in 1940 when it was designated Albuquerque Army Air Base, the precursor to today's Kirtland Air Force Base. The airport continues to share its runways with Kirtland AFB, which also handles rescue and firefighting operations. An Air Force Material Command (AFMC) installation, the host unit is the 377th Air Base Wing (377 ABW). Flying units at Kirtland AFB consist of the 58th Special Operations Wing (58 SOW) of the Air Education and Training Command (AETC) and the 150th Fighter Wing (150 FW), an Air Combat Command (ACC)-gained unit of the New Mexico Air National Guard.

Future developments[edit]

The Airport Master Plan drafted in 2002 lays out intermediate- and long-term projects at the Sunport, including the removal of Runway 17/35 and the construction of a second terminal when traffic demands it. The runway closure recommendation was based on safety, noise abatement, and the cost of upkeep. Because 17/35 intersected all three of the other runways, it ran the highest risk of runway incursions. The runway was closed in Summer 2012, and the tarmac is currently used for taxiing aircraft, as well as a firefighting training aircraft located on the north end.[6] The configuration of the other three runways, in conjunction with typical wind patterns, were able to handle departures and landings more efficiently.

In the longer term, the plan calls for a new terminal to be built to the northeast of the existing terminal. A people mover system will connect the terminal with parking facilities and the existing terminal.[7]

Facilities and aircraft[edit]

Albuquerque International Sunport Airport covers 2,039 acres (825 ha) and has three runways. In 2014 the airport had 130,002 aircraft operations, an average of 356 per day: 40% scheduled commercial, 21% air taxi, 24% general aviation and 15% military. In 2006, there were 322 aircraft based at this airport: 33% multi-engine, 30% single-engine, 18% military, 13% jet and 7% helicopter.[2] ABQ's terminal, which was expanded in the late 1980s, and again to its present size in 1996, encompasses 574,000 sq ft (53,300 m²) of space. The airport has a Pueblo Revival style passenger terminal which houses two concourses and an area for commuter airline gates.

The largest passenger aircraft scheduled into Albuquerque is the Boeing 757, operated by Delta Air Lines on flights from Atlanta during spring and summer. The largest aircraft the Sunport usually sees is a UPS Airbus A300 to Louisville and Ontario. Years ago the airport had scheduled Trans World Airlines Lockheed L-1011s.

The data below lists annual total aircraft operations from 2003–2013 from the FAA's Air Traffic Activity System. The percent changes indicate an average of −5.01% in aircraft operations per year over the last 10 years.[8]

Aircraft Operations: ABQ 2003–2013[8]
Calendar Year Aircraft Operations  %
2003 219,127
2004 197,657 −9.79%
2005 196,699 −0.48%
2006 192,241 −2.27%
2007 190,780 −0.76%
2008 180,553 −5.36%
2009 158,529 −12.20%
2010 156,616 −1.21%
2011 154,140 −1.58%
2012 147,724 −4.16%
2013 136,915 −7.32%

The airport's freight center moved 60,000 tons of cargo in 2013, a 7% decline from 64,000 tons during the 2012 calendar year.[9][10]

Banner inside the airport terminal listing Albuquerque's sister cities

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Albuquerque International Sunport has one terminal with 24 gates in three concourses, including a concourse for commuter airline gates. Concourse A has 13 gates: A1 – A12, A14. Concourse B has 9 gates: B1, B3-B10 (Gate B2 was removed during the security hall and low B gate bathroom expansion). Concourse E has 2 gates: E1 & E2.[11] Concourse C consisted of three gates (C1, C2, & C3). It was mostly used by Trans World Airlines. It was closed in the early 2000s and has mostly been converted to office space. Concourse D was a ground-level commuter aircraft concourse that was used by Great Plains Airlines and Rio Grande Air. It was closed in 2004 after Great Plains Airlines liquidated due to insolvency.[12]

Airlines Destinations Concourse
Alaska Airlines Seattle/Tacoma A
American Airlines Dallas/Fort Worth B
American Eagle Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles B
Boutique Air Silver City E
Delta Air Lines Atlanta
Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul, Salt Lake City
Delta Connection Salt Lake City B
JetBlue Airways New York-JFK B
New Mexico Airlines[13] Carlsbad E
Southwest Airlines Baltimore, Chicago-Midway, Dallas-Love, Denver, Houston-Hobby, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oakland, Phoenix, San Diego
Seasonal: Orlando, Portland (OR)
United Airlines Houston-Intercontinental
Seasonal: Denver
United Express Chicago-O'Hare, Denver, Houston-Intercontinental, Los Angeles, San Francisco A
US Airways Seasonal: Charlotte (begins June 4, 2015), Phoenix (begins April 14, 2015) B
US Airways Express Phoenix B


Carrier shares: Dec 2013 – Nov 2014[14]
Carrier Passengers (arriving and departing)
Express Jet
Top domestic destinations: (Dec 2013 – Nov 2014)[14]
Rank City Airport Passengers
1 Phoenix, AZ Phoenix Sky Harbor International (PHX) 328,000
2 Dallas/Fort Worth, TX Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW) 293,000
3 Dallas, TX Dallas Love Field (DAL) 193,000
4 Denver, CO Denver International (DEN) 188,000
5 Las Vegas, NV McCarran International (LAS) 158,000
6 Los Angeles, CA Los Angeles International (LAX) 155,000
7 Atlanta, GA Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (ATL) 140,000
8 Houston, TX William P. Hobby (HOU) 99,000
9 Chicago, IL Chicago-Midway 81,000
10 Houston, TX George Bush Intercontinental (IAH) 77,000

Cargo airlines[edit]

Airlines Destinations
FedEx Express Lubbock, Memphis, Oklahoma City
FedEx Feeder
operated by Empire Airlines
Durango, Farmington, Gallup
UPS Airlines Dallas/Ft. Worth, El Paso, Louisville, Ontario, Phoenix

General aviation support[edit]

Support for private, corporate, and general aviation aircraft pilots and passengers are handled by two fixed-base operators at Albuquerque International Sunport: Atlantic Aviation and Cutter Aviation and Albuquerque Aero services which handles Avionics and Electrical. All three are located on the Southeast section of the airport off Clark Carr Loop.

Ground transportation[edit]

ABQ RIDE offers bus service (Routes 50, 222, and 250) at the south side of the baggage claim area.
Commuter train
ABQ RIDE Route 222 provides connecting service to the New Mexico Rail Runner Express Bernallilo County/International Sunport Station, while ABQ RIDE Route 250 provides nonstop service to the Alvarado Transportation Center in Downtown Albuquerque. The Rail Runner provides service both north and south of the airport, including Downtown Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
Scheduled shuttle bus service
Regularly scheduled bus and shuttle service is provided by various carriers to locations from ABQ to the city as well as Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Taxis can be hailed through the Ground Transportation employees outside the baggage claim areas.

Incidents and accidents[edit]

  • On February 19, 1955, TWA Flight 260, a Martin 4-0-4 bound for Santa Fe, crashed into the Sandia Mountains shortly after takeoff. All 16 people on board the flight were killed.[15]
  • On September 11, 1958, a USAF F-102 Delta Dagger slid off the end of Runway 35 in heavy rain and struck a car on Gibson Boulevard before coming to rest in an empty lot on the north side of the street. Both occupants of the car were killed.[16]
  • On November 3, 1973, National Airlines Flight 27, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10, suffered a catastrophic engine failure while en route from Houston to Las Vegas. Shrapnel from the engine struck the fuselage and caused an explosive decompression of the aircraft. One passenger was blown out of the cabin. The plane was able to make an emergency landing at ABQ.[17]
  • On September 14, 1977, a USAF Boeing EC-135 crashed into the Manzano Mountains just after takeoff, killing all 20 people on board.[18]
  • On July 6, 1997, Delta Air Lines Flight 1470, a Boeing 727 suffered a right landing gear failure after landing on Runway 21. While there were no fatalities, 3 people were injured and the aircraft suffered serious damage.


  • The Sunport had been providing free internet through wi-fi. In February 2005, the Sunport was voted one of the top five U.S. airports for wireless access, according to a Microsoft Small Business Center poll. Sunport was the only one among the top 5 that provided free internet.[19] The service is still provided free to this date.
  • There is a free cell phone parking area, where meeters and greeters can park and wait for a call from their arriving passenger before driving to the front of the terminal for pickup.
  • There are two free aircraft observation areas.


  1. ^ Albuquerque International Sunport, official site
  2. ^ a b c FAA Airport Master Record for ABQ (Form 5010 PDF), effective June 5, 2008
  3. ^
  4. ^ Biebel, Charles D. (1986). Making the Most of It: Public Works in Albuquerque during the Great Depression 1929–1942. Albuquerque: The Albuquerque Museum, pp. 66–67.
  5. ^ a b Price, Vincent Barrett (1992). A City at the End of the World. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. p. 36. ISBN 0-82631-371-X. 
  6. ^ "A Boeing 727-200F aircraft from FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) made its final journey today onto the Albuquerque International Sunport.". City of Albuquerque. City of Albuquerque. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  7. ^ "Executive Summary". Albuquerque International Sunport Airport Master Plan. Retrieved August 14, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b "Air Traffic Activity System". Retrieved October 29, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Sunport Facts & Figures". City of Albuquerque. Retrieved October 29, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Sunport Facts & Figures". City of Albuquerque. Archived from the original on September 22, 2013. Retrieved October 29, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Terminal Level 2 Ticketing Level". City of Albuquerque. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  12. ^ "Albuquerque Sunport turned 70!". Tom Miles. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  13. ^ "Commercial Airlines". City of Albuquerque. Retrieved April 14, 2012. 
  14. ^ a b "Albuquerque, NM: Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics. April 2013. Retrieved Feb 2015. 
  15. ^ "Aviation Safety Network: Aircraft accident description Martin 4-0-4 N40416 – Sandia Mountain, NM". Retrieved April 14, 2012. 
  16. ^ Palmer, Mo (August 10, 2006). "Remembering past tragedies." The Albuquerque Tribune.
  17. ^ "Aviation Safety Network: Aircraft accident description McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10 N60NA – Socorro, NM". November 3, 1973. Retrieved April 14, 2012. 
  18. ^ (September 15, 1977). "20 die in Air Force plane crash." Associated Press.
  19. ^ Business First, Albuquerque. "Sunport's free WiFi service grabbing national attention". 

External links[edit]