192 US Airports Have More Capacity Than Before The Pandemic

192 US airports have more capacity this summer than before the pandemic began. Seven have added one million or more seats, including Fort Myers, Miami, and Salt Lake City. Still, total US capacity is down by 128 million seats, but there are bright spots – and probably many more than you’d expect.

192 US Airports Have More Capacity Than Before The Pandemic
Miami has grown strongly summer 2019. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

A whopping 192 US airports have more seat capacity this summer than in pre-pandemic summer 2019 (S19). This is a finding from analyzing data for 455 airports across the country.

This study also revealed that total US capacity is still down by 128 million seats and that 263 airports – nearly six in ten – have lower capacity than they did before.

192 US Airports Have More Capacity Than Before The Pandemic
Salt Lake City has added the third-highest amount of seats since S19. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

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192 US airports have grown

Of these 192 airports, there are some big numbers in terms of how many seats have been added. There are:

  1. Seven with 1,000,001 or more
  2. 40 between 100,001 and one million
  3. 61 between 10,001 and 100,000
  4. 84 added up to 10,000 more seats

These airports have grown despite – or in some cases, specifically because of – coronavirus. A good number would not have risen if the pandemic had not occurred, raising the obvious question: how sustainable is it for them? And when things return to ‘normal’, will that demand and supply still exist at the same or similar level?

192 US Airports Have More Capacity Than Before The Pandemic
Southwest has been instrumental in the growth of many airports. Photo: Getty Images.

The 20 airports that have grown the most

Clearly, the top-20 airports, as follows, revolve enormously around leisure demand, whether sun-oriented or for outdoor pursuits. There are exceptions, though, such as Dallas Fort Worth. Simple Flying recently examined this airport and found that it has jumped from the US’ fourth-largest airport to second.

  1. Fort Myers: 3,032,756 added seats versus summer 2019, up by 57.8%
  2. Miami: +2,851,748; +10.2%
  3. Salt Lake City: +1,963,338; +11.1%
  4. Dallas Fort Worth: +1,859,166; +3.5%
  5. Sarasota: +1,385,100; +114.2%
  6. Myrtle Beach: +1,315,291; +53.0%
  7. Phoenix: +1,163,061; +3.8%
  8. Nashville: +995,057; +7.4%
  9. Denver: +943,408; +2.0%
  10. Fort Lauderdale: +895,159; +3.8%
  11. Bozeman: +878,561; +77.4%
  12. Charlotte: +808,893; +2.3%
  13. Destin Fort Walton Beach: +783,317; +55.0%
  14. Key West: +751,317; +118.2%
  15. Pensacola: +706,723; +41.3%
  16. Colorado Springs: +614,612; +49.6%
  17. Panama City: +576,393; +58.2%
  18. Boise: +536,694; +17.9%
  19. Fresno: +451,417; +32.4%
  20. Kahului: +403,822; +7.2%
192 US Airports Have More Capacity Than Before The Pandemic
Key West has grown hugely since S19. JetBlue and Allegiant have been added, while United has added 243% more capacity and American 183%. The airport’s network has grown from 13 to 20 unique routes. Photo: Getty Images.

Fort Myers is up the most

With over three million additional seats, Fort Myers has added more capacity than any other US airport, as revealed below. This has pushed it up 11 places from 50th to 39th. It is one of eight Florida airports in the top-20 list, with Florida as a whole up by a very significant 11 million seats.

192 US Airports Have More Capacity Than Before The Pandemic
Delta has added just shy of 700,000 seats at Fort Myers, up by 59%. Southwest has grown by 899,000 and nearly doubled in size. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

13 airports have doubled in size or more

13 airports have at least doubled in size, as follows. As you’d expect, these are all fairly small, but it is still a powerful achievement.

  1. Victoria (Texas): +209.3%
  2. Steamboat Springs (Colorado): +201.7%
  3. Alamosa (Colorado): 181.5%
  4. St. George (Utah): 172.3%
  5. South Naknek (Alaska): 168.4%
  6. Fort Dodge (Iowa) 164.1%
  7. Johnstown (Pennsylvania) 141.8%
  8. Santa Maria (California) 136.0%
  9. Mason City (Iowa) 119.1%
  10. Key West (Florida) 118.2%
  11. Sarasota (Florida) 114.2%
  12. Vail (Colorado) 104.9%
  13. West Yellowstone (Montana): 102.7%

Sarasota rose from 1.2 million to 2.6 million, mainly from adding Southwest, which has become the airport’s largest carrier. It has 16 routes. Frontier (+123%), American (+102%), JetBlue (+35%), and Delta (+32%) have also grown strongly.

192 US Airports Have More Capacity Than Before The Pandemic
Frontier has more than doubled in size at Sarasota. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Steamboat Springs is up by over 200%

Steamboat Springs has increased from fewer than 50,000 summer seats to almost 150,000. Like Sarasota, this is from adding Southwest, which has rapidly become the airport’s second-largest operator. It has two routes: Denver and Dallas Love. And United, Steamboat Springs’ top airline, has nearly doubled capacity, especially on the 141-mile sector to Denver.

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