Austin-Bergstrom International Airport officials reported breaking two records for the top 10 busiest days at the airport following a total solar eclipse April 8, an event that attracted an influx of visitors to Central Texas.

The overview

High volumes of departing passengers were predicted by ABIA officials following the eclipse, including an anticipated record-breaking number of rental car returns on April 9 and 10.

ABIA officials said over 35,000 departing passengers in a single day is considered busy, and between April 9-12, over 36,000 passengers departed ABIA each day. ABIA spokesperson Bailey Grimmett told Community Impact this is not usually a busy time for the airport, and likely the eclipse and MotoGP caused the high number of travelers.

By the numbers

The following are the passenger volumes for the days following the total solar eclipse:
  • April 9: 37,147
  • April 10: 36,380
  • April 11: 39,967
  • April 12: 36,772
April 9 and April 11 joined the list of the top 10 busiest days for the airport, with April 11 as the third busiest day on record, beating Oct. 16, 2023, and April 9 as the ninth busiest, beating Nov. 12, 2023.

The cause

The total solar eclipse prompted both city and county officials to plan for an anticipated 1 million visitors, as the Austin area was in the path of totality. This means the city was one of the few places on the planet where the moon completely blocked the sun for a few minutes, darkening the sky in the middle of the afternoon.

A local disaster was declared by Travis County officials to prepare emergency services as a strain on resources, traffic and cellular towers was expected. Neighboring city Dripping Springs also was under a disaster declaration city officials enacted in expectation for increased tourism.

Diving in deeper

Interest in the total solar eclipse likely caused the record-breaking volumes last week, but officials at ABIA have reported rapid passenger growth over the past few years. The busiest year on record was 2023 with over a million more travelers than in 2022, and half of the airport’s busiest days.

An expansion and development program will address the growth and modernize the facility.

What’s next

ABIA officials anticipate a busy day April 15, following MotoGP over the weekend. Over 35,000 passengers will depart April 15.

Travelers may notice a security checkpoint closed until at least 2026 as part of the West Infill project, which will expand the checkpoint and add more space for travelers in addition to space for the new baggage handling system. This project is part of the expansion and development program.

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