Minneapolis/St. Paul. The Twin Cities. Minnesota. Certainly not the center of the universe, but it is the largest and most dynamic region in the Upper Midwest of the United States. With a metropolitan area population of more than three million, it’s come as no surprise that the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport is a vital facility that connects the region to airports and destinations not only around the U.S. and North America, but throughout the world.
MSP has a storied history of being home to many airlines, including Wisconsin Central which grew to become North Central. North Central merged with Hughes Airwest and Southern Airways and was re-named Republic Airlines. During a similar timeline, Northwest Airlines grew into Northwest Orient Airlines, one of the first American airlines to serve Asia from the U.S., with multiple stops along the way. Changing its name to Northwest Airlines to be more current with the world, the airline grew with the purchase of Republic to become one of the largest carriers in the country.
But of course, the U.S. airline industry continued to consolidate, and Northwest merged (was purchased by) Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines in 2008. Delta maintained, and has in-fact grown the MSP hub to become the second largest in its system in terms of passengers served; third in terms of flights operated. Delta currently offers more than 500 daily departures to more than 125 destinations from MSP.
While Delta is far and away the dominant airline serving MSP, there are many more air options to consider. All of the other mega carriers, American, United and Southwest offer frequent service, primarily to their respective hubs. Locally-based Sun Country Airlines, originally a charter carrier for winter vacationers, is in the midst of re-creating who they are, with less emphasis on MSP, though they are still a strong player in the vacation market from Minnesota. Other domestic carriers from MSP include Alaska Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue, and Spirit Airlines. Small regional airlines Air Choice One and Boutique Air also offer flights from MSP.
International service has grown by leaps and bounds over the years at MSP, While Delta, again, is the dominant carrier with daily non-stops to London, Amsterdam (three daily flights), Tokyo, Seoul, Mexico City and Cancun year-round, with other options offered during the winter months. International airlines currently offering non-stops from MSP include Air Canada, Icelandair, Condor, Aer Lingus, KLM and Air France. The latter two are part of the Sky Team Alliance along with Delta.
As air travel has grown, so has MSP. While its original name dating back to 1920 was Speedway Field with a race track which ran completely around the airport, it became Wold-Chamberlain Field in 1923, re-named for two local heroes who died during World War One. At last count there are a total of 131 gates and two terminals. Terminal 1 (Lindbergh) is commonly known as the “main terminal” with 104 gates. It is home to all flights operated by Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Spirit Airlines, KLM, Air France, Aer Lingus, Air Choice One and Boutique Air. Terminal 2 (Hubert H. Humphrey) is located across the airfield, or one free light-rail stop away. It has been gradually expanded over the years and now offers 14 gates that are utilized by Southwest Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, Condor, Icelandair and Jet Blue.
While airline travel in 2020 and possibly beyond will be dramatically impacted by the coronavirus that has brought the industry to its knees, MSP will one day return to its strong growth pattern. In 2019, more than 39 million passengers passed through the airport, with about 60 percent being local originating travelers and the other 40 percent using the airport as a connecting point. Including Delta’s hub operation at MSP, the airport last year had more than 400,000 operations (takeoffs and landings), with non-stop service to 136 domestic points and 27 international destinations.
For the most complete information about the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, log onto http://www.mspairport.com.