Waiting for post COVID-19 flight traffic at the busiest airports

New data on the busiest airports in the United States suggests there is room for more flights in 2022:

Photo by Maria Tyutina on Pexels.com

O’Hare International Airport remained America’s second-busiest hub behind Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in 2021, but experts say the number to watch is a 27% rebound in flights compared to a dismal 2020…

At the same time, O’Hare continues to climb out of a pandemic slump of 538,211 arrivals and departures in 2020. To put that in context, operations totaled 919,704 in 2019 when O’Hare held the title for most U.S. flights…

What other airports are bustling? The third-most voluminous was Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, followed by Denver International Airport, Charlotte Douglas International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport in sixth place.

I have been to the Chicago airports one time for a flight in the last two years and that visit in October 2021 seemed fairly close to normal. Theoretically, the pandemic provided a little space to make improvements or tackle projects at airports. I saw some improvements underway. At least a few big projects are in process at O’Hare:

An expansion of Terminal 5 is in full swing, with more than $1 billion earmarked to modernize the global facility.

At the same time, plans for major airports like O’Hare likely take place on the scale of decades, not necessarily a year at a time. For example, discussions regarding adding a new western terminal and entrance to O’Hare have gone on for years with some progress toward that goal.

It will also be interesting to see how the role of airports changes as the United States shifts to more electric vehicles. If longer road trips are different, will more people want to fly to destinations more than a few hours away? Flights are not exactly green but the transportation landscape could change in the next few decades.

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