Austin airport rebounds from Southwest meltdown
As the Austin airport continues to see a record number of travelers, new data from the U.S. Department of Transportation reveals the severity of Southwest Airlines' winter meltdown.
State of play: For most airlines, summer will test how well they've rebounded from the chaos of the holiday season.
- But in Austin, that test comes early each year when South by Southwest crowds, spring breakers, WGC-Dell Match Play attendees and NASCAR fans swarm the airport throughout the month of March.
Driving the news: The real story of winter holiday travel, of course, was Southwest canceling thousands of flights nationwide.
- New data from the U.S. Department of Transportation reveals that just 66.4% of flights — and 60.5% of Southwest flights — at AUS departed on time in December.
- That's down from 76.5% of on-time flights — and 74.8% on-time Southwest flights — in November 2022, per the department's Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
Between the lines: 2022 was a record-breaking year for ABIA, but all indications so far suggest Southwest — and the airport — have recovered nicely since December.
- AUS saw three of its five busiest days ever this month, according to airport officials.
- During the same period last year, AUS dealt with fuel shortages and TSA waits that wrapped around the airport.
What they're saying: "While the terminal is definitely busy, we aren't seeing dramatically long lines," airport spokesperson Sam Haynes tells Axios.
- Passengers are still encouraged to arrive early and expect a wait for airline ticket counters, TSA and concessions, Haynes added.
The bottom line: December was truly just as bad as it seemed, the data show.
What we're watching: How AUS handles another busy weekend as WGC-Dell Match Play and NASCAR collide.
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