These are record-setting times at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), with more passengers than ever passing through its two terminals.
Last year more than 38 million passengers flew into or out of the state’s largest airport, beating the old high-water mark of 37.6 million set in 2005, according to figures released to the Star Tribune on Tuesday.
The news comes just a week after the airport set a one-day record for the number of travelers who passed through security checkpoints. More than 60,883 passengers were screened at checkpoints on Feb. 5, the day after Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis, the Transportation Security Administration said.
The single-day passenger record smashed the previous mark set on March 10, 2017, when 47,200 people went through checkpoints. MSP also set a record on Feb. 5 for the number of bags checked in one day, with 34,368, or about double the 17,900 checked on an average day.
Passenger traffic has been rising steadily since 2009, when it bottomed out at 32,379,195. The modern-day low came after the Great Recession of 2008 and Delta’s acquisition of Northwest Airlines. Since then, eight airlines have entered the market and a ninth will join in March, when Jet Blue begins daily service between the Twin Cities and Boston.
Delta continues to be the dominant airline at MSP, carrying 71 percent of air travelers. Locally-based Sun Country Airlines carried the second highest percentage of travelers with 6.6 percent of the load followed by Southwest, United and Spirit. Ten other airlines serve MSP.
“For eight years, we’ve experienced steady, sustainable growth at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport,” said Brian Ryks, executive director and CEO of the Metropolitan Airports Commission, which oversees the airport. “We have seen significant growth in recent years by low-cost competitors Southwest, Spirit and Frontier.”
Alaska, Air France, Boutique Air, KLM, Air Choice One and Condor airlines have expanded offerings or entered the market.
Despite the passenger growth, total operations at the airport remain far below the peak of 541,093 set in 2004. In 2017, the total number of takeoffs and landings was 416,213, a slight increase over 2016. More airlines are shifting away from small regional aircraft and flying larger planes, which has allowed passenger traffic to climb while total flight activity grew at less than 1 percent, Ryks said.
The airport also moved 229,400 metric tons of cargo in 2017, up 11 percent from 2016.