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ABQ Sunport Sees Sharpest Increase in Passenger Traffic Since Pandemic’s Start

Mayor Keller discusses increased travel and further reopening as city looks towards ‘Green.’

April 27, 2021

In a press briefing today, Mayor Tim Keller and Aviation Director Nyika Allen provided an update on Albuquerque’s vaccine distribution, reopening, and the rebound of the Sunport International Airport.

After a year that brought air travel to a halt across the country, travelers are returning to the state’s largest commercial airport. The Albuquerque Sunport has experienced its sharpest increase in passenger traffic this month with a 30-day average of about 7,300 passengers per day. Compared to the same 30-day period one year ago during the depths of the pandemic, this month’s numbers represent a 1030% increase in daily passengers. While there is still a long road ahead to reach pre-pandemic travel numbers, the Sunport has now recovered over half of its 2019 daily traffic and growth is expected to continue in the coming months.

At today’s press briefing, Mayor Keller and Director Allen also announced that the increased demand was bringing back a number of direct flight routes that had been postponed due to the pandemic. Direct flights from Allegiant Air and American Airlines to Los Angeles, Austin, and Las Vegas will be returning in May and June.

“Just like our city, the Sunport is making a comeback. There are now thousands of passengers safely traveling through here each day and we’re bringing new flights online. That’s a very different picture than we saw just a few months ago,” said Mayor Keller. “There is still a lot of ground to cover to reach our pre-pandemic travel numbers, but this recovery is encouraging and so important to our city, to travelers, and to the employees who work in our airport.”

Mayor Keller also shared an update on the city’s vaccination distribution and COVID recovery at today’s briefing. Strong vaccination rates in the city and a recent announcement that the New Mexico Department of Health is updating the gating criteria used for the state’s red-to-turquoise reopening model are positive developments in the city’s efforts to reach ‘green’ and reopen more of the economy.

In the Albuquerque Metro area, 54.7% of residents over the age of 16 have received their first shot and 34.4% have been fully vaccinated – up from 47.6% and 28.4% less than two weeks ago. The City’s Emergency Operations Center has supported 57 points of dispensation (PODS) that have administered 25,472 doses to date and has 7 more PODS scheduled by mid-May with another 3,882 doses.

“Our ability to move to green and resume more of the daily activity we love and miss is in sight, but it comes down to vaccinations. The same is true of getting our case rates on a downward trend again,” said Mayor Keller. “The vaccine is free and available to everyone over 16, so if you haven’t had gotten your shot, it’s time to make your appointment.”

See slides from today’s presentation.