Austin–Bergstrom International Airport
Austin–Bergstrom International Airport
|Owner||City of Austin|
|Operator||City of Austin Aviation Department|
|Location||Austin, Texas, U.S.|
|Opened||May 23, 1999|
|Elevation AMSL||542 ft / 165 m|
Austin–Bergstrom International Airport or ABIA (IATA: AUS, ICAO: KAUS, FAA LID: AUS, formerly BSM) is a Class C international airport located in Austin, the capital of Texas, serving the Greater Austin metropolitan area.
Located about 5 miles (8 km) southeast of Downtown Austin, it covers 4,242 acres (1,717 ha) and has two runways and three helipads. It is on the site of what was Bergstrom Air Force Base. The airport and U.S. Air Force base were named after Captain John August Earl Bergstrom, an officer who served with the 19th Bombardment Group. The airport replaced Robert Mueller Municipal Airport as Austin's main airport.
The airport is the busiest in Texas outside the Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston metropolitan areas. As of 2018[update], there are 510 arrivals and departures on the typical weekday to 76 destinations in North America and Europe. In 2019, AUS set a record by serving 17,343,729 passengers, the most in the airport's 20 year history.
In 1942, the city of Austin purchased land and donated the land to the Federal government of the United States for a military installation, with the stipulation that the city would get the land back when the government no longer needed it. This land became Bergstrom Air Force Base. Del Valle Airfield was activated on September 19, 1942 on 3,000 acres (12 km2) leased from the City of Austin. The name of the base was changed to Bergstrom Army Airfield (AAF) in March 1943, in honor of Captain John August Earl Bergstrom, a reservist in the 19th Bombardment Group, who was killed at Clark Field, Philippines in 1941. He was the first Austinite killed in World War II. With the separation of the United States Air Force and United States Army in September 1947, the name again changed to Bergstrom Air Force Base. It would have this name until it was decommissioned in the early 1990s, with all military aviation ceasing in 1995, after more than 50 years.
As Austin was quickly outgrowing the old Robert Mueller Municipal Airport, the city began considering options for a new airport as early as 1971, when the Federal Aviation Administration proposed that Austin and San Antonio build a joint regional airport. That idea was rejected, as few Austinites supported driving halfway to San Antonio on Interstate 35 to catch a flight. Afterwards, the city submitted a proposal to the United States Air Force for joint use of Bergstrom Air Force Base in 1976. The Air Force rejected the proposal in 1978 as being too disruptive to its operations.
In the 1980s, neighborhoods around Mueller applied enough political pressure to force the city council to choose a site for a new airport from locations under consideration. In November 1987, voters approved a referendum designating a site near Manor. The city began acquiring the land, but faced lawsuits from the Sierra Club and others concerned about the Manor location and its potential environmental impact.
The plans to construct a new airport at the Manor location were abandoned in 1991 when the Base Realignment and Closure Commission selected Bergstrom AFB for closure, and gave the nod to the city for the land and runways to be converted for use as a civilian airport. The USAF also agreed not to demolish the existing facilities, including the nearly-pristine main runway. The city council decided to abandon the original plan to build the new airport near Manor, and resolved instead to move the airport to the Bergstrom site. The City of Austin hired John Almond—a civil engineer who had recently led the airport design team for the new airport expansion in San Jose, California—as Project Director for the new $585 million airport in Austin and to put together a team of engineers and contractors to accomplish the task. The issue of a $400 million bond referendum for a new airport owned and operated by the city was put to a public vote in May 1993 with a campaign managed by local public affairs consultant Don Martin and then-Mayor Bruce Todd and was approved by 63% of the vote. Groundbreaking for the new airport began in November 1994.
On October 23, 1995, with a $10 million budget and after the old tower, previously used by the US Air Force, "was demolished", construction began on building Austin's tallest primary building (277 ft (84 m)) that houses air traffic controllers. Being completed a year before the current president Bill Clinton arrived with his entourage, enabling Air Force One to be granted clearance to land, thus making the president "the first passenger" to arrive. The tower when completed is behind Dallas and Houston as the tallest tower in the state.
Bergstom AFB's main runway, 17R/35L, was kept intact along with most of its taxiways, as its high weight rating and long length would facilitate eventual service by large long-range airliners while reducing construction costs. Bergstom's original secondary runway, 17L/35R, was closed and partially demolished to allow new sections of taxiway to directly connect the main runway to the terminal complex. A replacement 9,000-foot 17L/35R was built to the east of the terminal site, along with a general aviation complex to the inside of its southern half. Most of the existing military buildings including the original control tower were demolished and cleared to make way for the new terminal and substantial parking facilities, though a hangar complex and parking tarmac to the south was retained, along with a section of tarmac to the northeast of the primary runway which became the foundation for ABIA's freight terminal. A few other existing jet bridges were converted to access roads for ground vehicles, while the family housing area to the northwest would be leveled but some of the roads kept for a Texas Department of Transportation service facility. A large complex of Travis County facilities, including the county correctional facility and sheriff's training academy, already existed just off of the original base; these facilities were left untouched.
Bergstrom had the designator BSM until Mueller's final closure in 1999, when it took Mueller's IATA code of AUS. Initial issues with flight scheduling and routing led to proposed plans to keep Mueller operating in parallel with Bergstrom for a few weeks, but residents near Mueller blocked such efforts by appealing to the FAA, who refused to delay the transfer of the AUS LID or to issue a new airport code for Mueller. Austin–Bergstrom opened to the public on May 23, 1999.
Austin–Bergstrom International Airport opened to the public on May 23, 1999 with a 12,250 feet (3,730 m) runway, among the nation's longest commercial runways. The Barbara Jordan passenger terminal was originally conceived as an 18-gate terminal facility with a footprint of a bit more than 500,000 square feet (46,000 m2). However, ABIA was expanded during construction to have 24 contact gates with jet bridges (named Gate 2-Gate 25) and one gate without a jet bridge (named Gate 1) for a total footprint of 660,000 sqft.
The opening of the airport coincided with a considerable number of nonstop flights being operated into Austin from the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, as American Airlines had decided to compete with Southwest Airlines' scheduled service between Dallas Love Field (DAL) and Austin in addition to American and Delta Air Lines service between Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and AUS. At the time, there were 42 nonstop flights every weekday being operated with mainline jet aircraft from the two primary airports located in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex to Austin. By contrast, this same OAG lists a combined total of 24 nonstop flights every weekday at this time from the two primary airports serving the Houston area, Hobby Airport (HOU) and Intercontinental Airport (IAH), to Austin.
As Austin's population and economic importance has grown, airlines have been introducing nonstop flights directly out of Austin instead of routing passengers through existing hubs in Dallas and Houston as they had done before. Recent years has seen ABIA experience dramatic growth in both passenger numbers and nonstop service.
The terminal's first expansion project was completed in the summer of 2015. It added an enlarged customs and immigration facility on the arrivals level capable of processing more than 600 passengers per hour, two domestic baggage claim belts, and an enlarged security checkpoint on the ticketing level. In 2019, an addition to the east side of the terminal added nine new gates, increasing the total number of gates from 25 to 34. These gates are spaced farther apart, to accommodate additional flights operated by larger aircraft. and Gates 1+3 and Gates 2+4 are able to act independently of each other when accommodating narrow body aircraft, or as one gate's Door A and Door B in a dual jetbridge configuration when larger, wide-body aircraft arrive providing boarding options. The number of flexible-use gates that can accommodate both international and domestic flights increased from two to six.
Barbara Jordan Terminal
The Barbara Jordan Terminal was designed by the Austin firm of Page Southerland Page with associate architect Gensler under contract to the New Airport Project Team, with lead architect University of Texas at Austin Architecture professor Larry Speck. The terminal is 748,000 square feet (69,500 m2) with a total of 34 gates and 33 jet bridge capable gates (Gates 1 through 12, and Gates 14 through 34), six of which (Gate 1 through 6) are capable of handling international flights that require passport control upon arrival. Many gates on the east end of the terminal are shared use gates (Gates 1 through 6) serving Aeromexico, Air Canada, Alaska, British Airways, Lufthansa, Norwegian, Spirit, Sun Country, and WestJet. A few additional shared use gates scattered across the facility for times when Aeromexico, British Airways, Lufthansa, and Norwegian are operating their services since most arriving flights from Canada pre-clear United States Passport Control prior to departure. The other airlines at the airport all have specific rented gates for exclusive use (American Airlines,5 gates; Delta Air Lines,5 gates; JetBlue Airways,1 gate; Southwest Airlines,8 gates; United Airlines,5 gates) totaling 25 of 34 gates.
There are several restaurants and food concessions inside the terminal, all but two of which are located inside the secured gate areas of the terminal. The terminal features an Admirals Club, United Club and Delta Sky Club for American, United and Delta frequent flyers respectively. The terminal also has a live music stage on which local bands perform in keeping with the spirit of Austin's proclamation as "The Live Music Capital of the World."
The terminal is connected to a 3,000 space parking garage used for public parking. A consolidated rental car facility that houses counter, pick up, drop off, service and cleaning facilities is connected via walkway to the terminal and parking garage. The addition of the rental car facility, completed in October 2015, allowed the 900 parking spaces previously used for rental cars on the top floor of the parking garage to be converted to additional close-in short-term parking.
A secondary terminal known as the South Terminal is primarily used by ultra low-cost carriers Allegiant Air and Frontier Airlines. The South Terminal is accessed from a separate entrance on the south side of the airport perimeter from Burleson Road; it cannot be accessed from either the main airport entrance from SH 71 or the Barbara Jordan terminal except by completely exiting the airport grounds. A shuttle runs between the two terminals. The facility has a retro look and three passenger gates without airbridges—passengers walk under a covered walkway to board the aircraft by stairs.
The South Terminal was originally commissioned as a joint venture with the Mexican-based low-cost airline VivaAerobus, which commenced service from Austin on May 1, 2008. The 30,000 square foot building, which was part of the original Air Force Base facilities, was renovated to meet the standards of a no-frills carrier. VivaAerobus's service was short-lived due to an epidemic of swine flu in Mexico in the spring of 2009 that resulted in high cancellation and no-show rates among leisure travelers, the airline's target demographic. Facing steep losses, the carrier terminated all service to the United States on June 1, 2009. The South Terminal's operator announced the closure of the facility at the same time.
In August 2015, the Austin City Council authorized a 30-year lease on the facility to LoneStar Airport Holdings, LLC, which proposed relocating the ultra-low-cost carriers Allegiant Airlines and Frontier Airlines from the Barbara Jordan Terminal. Both carriers had expressed interest in expanding service to Austin but faced physical constraints as the main terminal neared capacity during peak hours. The South Terminal underwent a $12 million renovation with a retro theme in the fall of 2016. Allegiant Air's transfer from the Barbara Jordan terminal on April 13, 2017 marked the reopening of the South Terminal. Frontier would relocate to the terminal in November 2018. ViaAir also operated commercial flights out of the South Terminal from 2018 to May 30, 2019.
Runway 17R/35L, to the west of the terminal, is the original runway built and used by the Air Force. The 12,250-foot-long (3,730 m) runway was reconditioned when Austin–Bergstrom was built. The 23-inch-deep (580 mm) concrete runway is dedicated to former President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Runway 17L/35R is a 9,000 foot (2,700 m) runway on the east side of the terminal and parallel with runway 17R/35L. This runway is dedicated to former Congressman J. J. "Jake" Pickle. This runway contains a Category IIIB instrument landing system.
Route 20 operated by the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority operates from the arrivals level every 15 minutes. The route takes passengers through downtown and UT-Austin before heading east along Manor Road. 
Through a plan dubbed Project Connect by the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority , the airport could be connected to Downtown Austin and The University of Texas at Austin with light rail service on the future Blue Line. The Blue Line construction cost is estimated to cost $1.3 billion and would be completed in 2028 if it is passed by voters November 2020.
Airlines and destinations
|DHL Aviation||Cincinnati, Tulsa, Memphis|||
|FedEx Express||Brownwood, El Paso, Fort Worth/Alliance, Los Angeles, Memphis, San Angelo|
|UPS Airlines||Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston-Intercontinental, Louisville, Monterrey|
|1||Atlanta, Georgia||446,000||Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit|
|2||Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas||427,000||American|
|3||Denver, Colorado||409,000||Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United|
|4||Los Angeles, California||347,000||American, Delta, Southwest, Spirit, United|
|5||Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois||390,000||American, Spirit, United|
|6||Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Arizona||268,000||American, Southwest|
|9||Las Vegas, Nevada||217,000||Allegiant, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit|
|10||San Francisco, California||212,000||Alaska, Frontier, Southwest, United|
|1||London - Heathrow, United Kingdom||187,953||British Airways|
|2||Toronto, ON, CA||70,672||Air Canada|
|4||London - Gatwick, United Kingdom||62,435||Norwegian|
|5||Mexico City, Mexico||48,063||AeroMexico|
|6||Calgary, AB, CA||13,365||WestJet|
|3||Delta Air Lines||2,285,000||13.66%|
|Carrier||Passengers (arriving and departing)|
|Delta Air Lines|
(a) Includes passenger totals at Robert Mueller Municipal Airport for January – May 1999.
Accidents and incidents
- March 1, 2002: During an instrument landing system (ILS) approach in bad weather, a Beechcraft A36 Bonanza, registration number N7236L, crashed on airport grounds and burned out after the pilot initiated a missed approach. The aircraft was destroyed and the pilot and single passenger were killed. The accident was attributed to "The pilot's failure to maintain airspeed, resulting in a stall. Contributing factors were the low ceiling, fog, and the unforecast weather conditions."
- December 7, 2009: A Piper PA-46-500TP, registration number N600YE, impacted terrain near Mendoza, Texas in a steep descending right turn during an ILS approach in low visibility, substantially damaging the aircraft and killing the pilot and single passenger. Immediately prior to the crash, an air traffic controller had instructed the pilot to perform a "combination of descending turns" and "heading changes [that] were rapid [and] of large magnitude..." Additionally, post-crash toxicological tests of the pilot found evidence of diphenhydramine, a sedating antihistamine. The accident was attributed to "The pilot's spatial disorientation, which resulted in his loss of airplane control. Contributing to the pilot's spatial disorientation was the sequence and timing of the instructions issued by the air traffic controller. The pilot's operation of the airplane after using impairing medication may also have contributed."
- May 7, 2020: Southwest Airlines Flight 1392 struck an adult male pedestrian during landing on runway 17R. The victim, who was not a badged airport employee, was declared dead at the scene, and airport authorities later confirmed that his presence on the runway was unauthorized. There were no injuries to anyone aboard the aircraft, which sustained damage to the left engine nacelle. The accident and security breach are under investigation.
- Includes passenger totals at Robert Mueller Municipal Airport for January – May 1999.
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Media related to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport at Wikimedia Commons
- Austin–Bergstrom International Airport (official site)
- SpottersWiki The Ultimate Airport Spotting Guide: Austin–Bergstrom International Airport
- Official maps
- (PDF), effective September 10, 2020
- FAA Terminal Procedures for AUS, effective September 10, 2020
- Resources for this airport: