Passengers, Airlines and Routes
Travelers returned to MSP at a steady pace in 2021. Most of that travel was within the confines of the United States, as there were fewer international travel opportunities due to travel restrictions.
As travel demand increased, airlines began adding back routes they had paused in 2020.
MSP gained 27 new year-round or seasonal destinations from six airlines in 2021, reaching a total 137 non-stop destinations. While an increase from 2020, the total remains below the 167 total destinations served in 2019.
The busiest times of the year occurred during Minnesota Education Week in October, the weekend of Thanksgiving in November, and the days following the Christmas holiday in December.
Icelandair’s return in June was a bright spot on the international travel scene. The airline, which paused service at MSP in 2020, returned to provide eager travelers direct access to Iceland and destinations beyond, offering four flights weekly to Keflavik International Airport serving Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik.
Besides Icelandair’s return service, KLM resumed service to Amsterdam, Delta Air Lines resumed service to Winnipeg, Mexico City, Reykjavik and Paris, as did Air France. Air Canada resumed service to Toronto. And Sun Country Airlines added Providenciales in Turks and Caicos.
Condor Airlines and Delta also announced their intention to resume overseas flights in 2022, including Delta service to London, England, Seoul, South Korea, and Haneda, Japan.
Sun Country took advantage of its low cost and flexible operating structure and added 14 new direct routes in 2021, resulting in operations at Terminal 2 returning to pre-pandemic levels.
Between May and December, this Minnesota-based airline added flights from MSP to: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Wyoming, and one international destination – Providenciales in Turks and Caicos.
In June, new air carrier entrant Allegiant Air announced it would offer seasonal and year-round service to destinations in Florida and North Carolina starting in October, giving budget-conscious travelers a new air service option.
Operating out of Terminal 2, on October 7, MSP celebrated Allegiant’s first flights to Asheville, NC and Palm Beach, FL. The next day, Allegiant conducted its first flight between MSP and Punta Gorda, FL.
Airlines not only ferry passengers from place to place. They also ship cargo across the globe. At MSP, air cargo shipments increased by 2.5 percent over 2019 and 15.2 percent over 2020. For cargo-only carriers, operations grew 10.2 percent over 2020. Much of the increase was fueled by buoyed consumer confidence, leading to an increase in retail and online purchases of goods across the world.