Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) set a new record in 2018 for the total number of travelers passing through its terminals.
The 2018 total of 38,037,381 passengers narrowly exceeded the 2017 record of 38,034,341 travelers. Total travelers includes those paying for airline tickets as well as non-revenue passengers (those flying free, such as airline employees with flight benefits).
If you consider only revenue passengers – those paying for a ticket – passenger numbers declined slightly in 2018, to 36,778,496, down from 36,799,978 a year earlier.
“We continue to see very strong demand for air service at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport,” said Metropolitan Airports Commission Executive Director and CEO Brian Ryks. “JetBlue filled out the ranks of airlines serving the airport in 2018, and 2019 is off to a great start, with a significant increase in routes to be flown by hometown carrier Sun Country, Aer Lingus launching service to Dublin, Ireland and Delta Air Lines to Mexico City and Seoul, South Korea.”
Major carriers continued to manage their fleets to operate close to capacity and use larger aircraft on certain routes, which contributed to a decrease in the number of flights at MSP despite the continued increase in total passengers.
Aircraft operations (landings and takeoffs) totaled 407,476 in 2018, a 2.1 percent decrease from 2017’s total of 416,213. The 2018 flights total remains far below the 2004 peak, when MSP had 541,093 aircraft operations.
“Airlines’ shift to carrying more passengers on fewer flights is good news from an environmental standpoint, reducing aircraft emissions and total noise occurrences around the airport,” Ryks said.
Delta Air Lines, which operates its second largest hub at MSP and is the airport’s largest carrier, together with its regional partners saw their combined revenue passenger numbers rise 1 percent in 2018. The airline had 1,497 fewer operations in 2018 than in 2017 – about 29 fewer takeoffs and landings per week on average.
In terms of market share, Delta Air Lines and its regional partners carried 71.4 percent of all MSP passengers in 2018. Delta was followed by Sun Country (6.4 percent market share); American Airlines (5.7 percent); Southwest (5.3 percent); United (4.3 percent); and Spirit (3.1 percent). The other 10 airlines serving MSP carried the remaining 3.8 percent of travelers.
Cargo increased 4.3 percent in 2018, to 239,273 metric tons.
In 2018, passengers originating or ending their trips at MSP accounted for 63 percent of all passenger traffic at the airport, demonstrating strong local demand for air service. That compares to 60 percent in 2017 and 52 percent a decade earlier, in 2008.