It comes as no surprise, but the extreme drop in the number of airline passengers worldwide in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic is still mind-boggling. After ten consecutive years of year-over-year passenger growth, last year saw a 62 percent reduction in airline travelers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
MSP served a record 39-million air travelers in 2019, so the drop to only 14.9 million in 2020 is startling, to say the least. Of course, airports around the globe experienced similar declines, but as the largest Delta Air Lines’ hub after the carrier’s operation at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), which for many years has been the world’s busiest airport, the quieter skies around the metro area have been clearly evident for nearly a year.
Brians Ryks, CEO of the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) that operates the airport commented, “We experienced the largest drop in air travel demand in aviation history in 2020….We hope to see a significant increase in demand in the latter half of 2021, particularly in leisure travel, as the COVID-19 vaccination program moves forward.”
In the most recent “normal” air travel year, MSP was the 17th busiest airport in the U. S. in terms of passengers served. Atlanta (ATL), Los Angeles International (LAX), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW) and Denver International (DEN) were the five busiest airports serving airlines in the country.