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Hallo: Rapidly Expanding ABIA Welcomes Amsterdam to SXSW

ABIA East Infill Gallery

Next year’s South by Southwest event will bring another first to Austin Bergstrom International Airport: the first event-centric transatlantic flights from Amsterdam.

That is a big deal for ABIA, which has been measured in firsts since it opened in 1999: first on-site hotel; first international flight; first use of the South Terminal; and even the first on-site retail, a 10-pump gas station that is set to open by the end of the year.

June was a record-setting month for ABIA: 1.2 million passengers. That is up 9% over 2016, which airport spokesman Jim Halbrook attributes to the symbiotic growth between airport and city. Austin not only has its large-scale events and Circuit of the Americas, it also has its annual convention dates and never-ending arrival of bachelorette parties.

ABIA already has exceeded its projected 9.2 million annual passenger projection for 2020. The Aviation Department is constructing nine additional gates and a 6,000-car garage. The garage addition, which also includes upgrades to rental car facilities and enlarging entry/exit plazas, has been projected to cost $250M. The gates cost $300M. The expansion is anticipated to handle another 4 million travelers a year.

A second on-site hotel, Hyatt Place, opened in May, right before COTA’s MotoGP GrandPrix. The on-site retail will be a 10-pump gas station that will include a 4,500 SF convenience store, a 9,700 SF on-site restaurant and a playscape. 

ABIA has added 20 new routes with nine carriers in the last year. Airlines are bringing bigger jets and more routes, Halbrook said. Delta’s Amsterdam-to-Austin route will be four days over the two weeks of South by Southwest, bringing in up to 1,000 additional visitors. This, for an airport many used to joke was barely international.

The South Terminal originally opened to serve flights to Cancun, which was eventually scrapped.It was reopened in April to handle Allegiant Airlines and the winter ski-centric Via Air. Halbrook said the two airlines combined saw 30,000 passengers in June.