Measuring growth in a city can encompass a wide variety of statistics. Population change, housing starts, vehicle registrations, and school enrollments can all give an indication of the dynamics within a city. But the popularity of a city cannot be measured by just the standard growth numbers. The amount of passenger air traffic provides a better look at popularity because it accounts for arrivals who are relocating, as well as visitors who will stay temporarily.
According to data released by the City of Austin and the Austin Bergstrom International Airport, our passenger traffic has been growing. In May 2011, the latest month with figures available, passenger traffic through ABIA increased 11% from the previous May. Year-over-year numbers for the past 10 months (as far back as data is posted on the City of Austin website) shows an increase every single month. More passengers are a sure way to see that Austin’s popularity is growing. With signature events like SXSW and ACL Music Festival, world-class college athletics, bike races, marathons, film festivals, book festivals, arts fair, street festivals, and more, our attractiveness continues to grow.
If each month, more passengers fly through ABIA than the same month the year before, we will continue to benefit from our growing popularity. Aside from the revenue the airport generates in various fees, concessions, taxes, and licensing, more passengers generally means more spending in our retail, restaurant, and entertainment establishments. More spending means more tax revenue and the ongoing success of local businesses.
Austin has historically been very good to our visitors. We welcome tourists and the yearly onslaught of university students with open arms. The semi-annual legislative session also provides an amazing flow of economic activity in our city and certainly had an impact on the graph above. As we continue to see population growth, we should also experience greater passenger air traffic as newcomers invite friends, relatives, and out-of-state colleagues to visit our incredible area. The new Formula 1 (F1) racetrack, The Circuit of the Americas, will generate enormous passenger traffic when it opens next year.
When Austin Bergstrom International Airport does well, the whole city benefits.