INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis International Airport (IND) is seeing a long-awaited upward trend in increased passenger traffic, compared to this time last year. The numbers, airport officials state, present an optimistic snapshot of where the year is headed so far, and signs point to a busy summer travel season.
Per airport data, in the first quarter of 2021, a little more than one million passengers flew through the Indy airport, compared to nearly two million in 2020 due in large part to record-breaking months prior to the start of the pandemic. In March 2021, more than 500,000 passengers flew through the Indy airport, a 20-percent increase compared to the same time period in 2020.
The Indianapolis Airport Authority attributes the positive traffic uptick to an industry-wide trend in leisure travel, the collegiate basketball tournament held in Indianapolis, and spring break travel.
“This is good news, and we’re optimistic as we look toward Q2 with a new airline coming on board at Indy and several inaugural nonstop flights – including some new flights to previously unserved destinations,” said Mario Rodriguez, IAA executive director. “These are new opportunities that fit perfectly with the strong trend right now toward leisure travel and summer just a few weeks away.”
Already this year, the Indy airport announced 15 new nonstop flights taking off from Indianapolis between May and September, compared to only five new flight announcements made overall in 2020.
2020 Cargo Traffic Highest in More Than a Decade
While air travel out of the Indianapolis International Airport is showing signs of improvement coming through the first quarter of 2021, air travel in 2020, on the whole, was drastically different than in 2019.
“As we rounded the first turn of last year, we were hosting the prestigious international Routes Americas conference here in Indianapolis, and with it the promise of several new nonstop flights; we were performing strongly on international air travel, and celebrating a record-breaking year of passenger traffic in 2019,” said Marsha Stone, IAA senior director of commercial enterprise.
In fact, 2020 started positively – with January and February 2020 showing record-breaking passenger traffic and Indianapolis was on par to be a $1.7 billion airline market. But by the end of 2020, passenger traffic had fallen by 57 percent (4.1 million), compared to 2019 (9.5 million). International traffic was down 81 percent overall in 2020 (compared to 2019), and available seat capacity fell overall by 36 percent, also compared to 2019.
Although passenger traffic was down, cargo traffic saw some record numbers with IND cargo airlines carrying more than 1.1 million tons of cargo in 2020, a nearly 11-percent increase from 2019. Cargo carried in 2020 was the highest seen in more than a decade. Overall, domestic cargo increased by nearly 9 percent from 2019 levels and international cargo increased by 29 percent from the same time period.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, the IAA moved immediately to institute comprehensive and extensive health and safety efforts, which made the Indy airport one of the first airports in the world last year to receive an Airport Health Accreditation designation from the Airports Council International.
In the first quarter of 2021, the IAA announced optional onsite COVID-19 testing at the Indy airport and the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control announced that fully vaccinated passengers were at low risk to travel if masked. In addition, face masks must be worn at the Indy airport, in accordance with the federal Department of Homeland Security requirement.
About the Indianapolis Airport Authority
The Indianapolis Airport Authority owns and operates Indiana’s largest airport system in the Indianapolis metropolitan area. In addition to the Indianapolis International Airport (IND), its facilities include the Downtown Heliport, Eagle Creek Airpark, Hendricks County Airport-Gordon Graham Field, Indianapolis Regional Airport, and Metropolitan Airport. IND generates a $5.4 billion total annual economic impact for Central Indiana – without relying on state or local taxes to fund operations. More than 10,000 people work at the airport each day, and 22,600 area jobs have a connection to the airport. In 2019, IND served more than 9.5 million business and leisure travelers each year. IND is consistently ranked, year after year, as the best airport in North America and the nation, based on ease of use, passenger amenities, customer service, local retail offerings, and public art. The airport is home to the world’s second-largest FedEx operation and the nation’s eighth-largest cargo facility. IND is committed to becoming the airport system of choice for both passenger and cargo service. For more information, visit IND’s Facebook page at Indianapolis International Airport and Twitter page at @INDairport.