Winners and Losers: The Least and Most Recovered Airports in the United States

The top 100 airports in the United States have 87.2 million departing seats forecast for October, according to Ailevon Pacific Aviation Consulting, which uses data from Cirium. While that may sound like a lot, it’s down 10% from the 97.2 million forecast five months ago.


It is not helped by the resumption of the Delta, Hawaiian, Alaska, Southwest and Allegiant slides compared to September. Most airlines have adjusted capacity, temporarily reducing frequency or postponing routes, etc., in part due to staff shortages. It reflects the current environment, and it is done to help increase the likelihood of being hit and for reliability reasons.

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United States in October

While the nation’s top 100 airports have 87.2 million seats for sale in October, that’s 94.9% of the 91.9 million available in October 2019. Ailevon Pacific shows that 40 US airports now have more capacity than before the pandemic. Significantly, this includes a handful of major airports with over two million departing seats:

  • Miami (ranks 13th most fetched, with 115.71% of October 2019 seats)
  • Vegas (15th; 113.28%)
  • Orlando International (17th; 113.28%)
  • denver (27th; 105.10%)
  • Phoenix (36th; 100.87%)
  • Dallas Fort Worth (40th; 100.07%)

Clearly, 60 of the country’s top 100 airports remain below October 2019 levels. This includes all other major hubs. Atlanta, the world’s busiest passenger airport, ranks 79th, with a recovery of just 88.02%. For a complete list of the 100 airports, click here.

Although some points are difficult to read, especially in cities with more than one airport, the big picture is clear. Image: Pacific Fin.

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The fastest growing airports

As you would expect, the fastest growing airports are still heavily reliant on leisure demand. With a near doubling of capacity, Sarasota is firmly the most recovered airport in the country in October. The Florida airport benefited from the arrival of Avelo, Breeze, Southwest and Sun Country, a doubling of capacity from Allegiant and significant growth from American and United.

Notice the presence of Austin – by far the largest airport by recovery – and how Westchester (mainly due to Breeze), Lihue (from the southwest), and Orange County are present. In the case of Orange County, Air Canada, Allegiant and Spirit have since joined, along with good growth from incumbents Southwest, Frontier and American.

United States ranking (out of 100) Airport Oct. 2022 seats Places Oct 2019 Recovery compared to 2019
1 sarasota 183,852 93,998 195.59%
2 bozeman 87,403 61,268 158.98%
3 myrtle beach 220 440 142,000 155.24%
4 Palm Springs 152,961 105,982 144.33%
5 Austin 1,209,788 934 758 129.42%
6 colorado springs 121,470 94,567 128.45%
seven Westchester 115,659 92,252 125.37%
8 Lihue 196 398 160,815 122.13%
9 Orange County 629,975 516,861 121.88%
ten Wooded 259,710 219,751 118.18%

Avelo opened Sarasota in January of this year. Photo: via Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.

Slowest recovering airports

The airports in the table below have 10.7 million planned seats, up from 13.8 million in 2019. Detroit is the nation’s slowest airport to recover, of the 100 reviewed, with even less than three-quarters of the ability he once had.

This is, of course, primarily due to Delta’s slow recovery, with Detroit remaining a fortress hub for the SkyTeam member. Delta’s slow recovery meant that capacity growth by other operators – Air Canada, Air France, Alaska, Frontier, JetBlue – was clearly insufficient to compensate for the juggernaut. Detroit is Delta’s third-busiest hub behind Atlanta and Minneapolis, whether analyzed by seats or flights.

United States ranking (out of 100) Airport Oct. 2022 seats Places Oct 2019 Recovery compared to 2019
91 Orlando–Sanford 124,098 151,650 81.83%
92 Los Angeles 3,420,829 4,267,600 80.16%
93 Madison 99,746 125,001 79.80%
94 San Francisco 2,296,070 2,898,188 79.22%
95 Greenville–Spartanburg 115,524 146,733 78.73%
96 San Jose 706 622 910 728 77.81%
97 Minneapolis 1,520,974 1,973,396 77.07%
98 Milwaukee 274,829 361,849 75.95%
99 Portland, Oregon) 759 908 1,007,795 75.40%
100 Detroit 1,424,096 1,913,256 74.43%

What do you think of all this? Let us know in the comments.

Source: Ailevon Pacific.

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