Extra, extra! Read all about 25 years of AUS

Text reads Happy Birthday AUS 25th. Green, blue and red colors used.

Welcome to a journey through time as we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. From its inception on the grounds of the old Bergstrom Air Force Base to becoming a bustling hub of connectivity and innovation, this airport has witnessed remarkable transformations over the years. If you want to read more about the airport’s history, pivotal milestones, and appreciation for the Austin community over these past 25 years, be sure to visit the AUS 25th Anniversary webpage at this link here.

Now, let’s delve into snippets of news coverage spanning close to two and a half decades. As we reminisce about the past, let’s also envision a future filled with exciting headlines yet to be written. In the meantime, check out a quarter century of highlights and news about AUS from archive news articles from local and national publications that feature previous generations of AUS team members, city leaders and more with news clips that capture some of AUS’s greatest accomplishments and the aviation industry’s largest challenges. 

July 21, 1999, ‘American Dream,’ Flight Global

The new $585 million Austin-Bergstrom International Airport opened in May after four years of construction on the site of the old Bergstrom AFB, which closed in 1993…

Austin-Bergstrom, occupying an area of little residential or commercial development, is the first civilian airport to be completed under the auspices of the US Government's Base Realignment and Closure Commission…

The Austin-Bergstrom project benefited significantly from the well-developed infrastructure that the USAir Force left behind…

Griffith says that the city's aviation department is heavily promoting the airport to scheduled carriers as an international gateway.

December 17, 2000, “From War Room to Ballroom,” Austin American-Statesman

From opening day, the place named Building 2900 by the military had colorful nicknames.

The command general worked in Room 201, an office filled with gifts from foreign dignitaries and war memorabilia. The office faced east, just above the main entrance.

Today, the general’s office has become Room 344 in the new Hilton…

The generals held high-level talks in the privacy of the Battle Cab.

But today, the Battle Cab is gone and the Hilton is storing mattresses – Simmons Elites – in the very spot where war plans were made.

The mattresses will go to the 263 guest rooms when they are readied this month.

…The hotel is close to opening, its telephone lines buzz with nostalgia. 

Military retirees call to book rooms. Children of military workers call to apply for jobs. Curious civilians call, too. They want to experience the history.

February 16, 2001, “Sin Fronteras,” The Austin Chronicle

Art defies borders. But art needs roots. Speaking from his home in North Austin, painter Fidencio Duran draws on his ancient heritage… In The Visit, a series of panels around Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Duran invites everyone to his childhood haunts. Elongated figures tell stories, strum guitars, play dominoes, and play volleyball over a clothesline, all the action taking place at the home of Duran's grandmother.

November 22, 2002, “Dancing About Architecture,” The Austin Chronicle

Nancy Coplin reports that the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport's live music program Music In the Air… has landed them a very special honor. The Airport Council International (which is the big organization among the airline industry) awarded them first prize for excellence in marketing over the series. This follows much previous applause given to the live music performances at the airport by magazines and other media…

January 24, 2003, “Shadows Over Bergstrom,” The Austin Chronicle

Harlon Brooks of Harlon's Bar-B-Q, which operates three concessions at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, would like to turn one of his spaces into a Popeye's franchise…

In any other city in America, the conversion of a single airport restaurant from one kind of fast food to another would be, to put it charitably, a nonevent. But Bergstrom is different… "I think the absence of chains and [presence of] local businesses in the airport is one of the great attractions of our airport," Slusher noted from the dais. "It's won a lot of praise from a lot of people, and we've worked hard to get it like that in the first place."

…Last fall, a J.D. Power customer-satisfaction survey named Bergstrom America's favorite airport, and its strategies -- at least before 9/11 -- were being copied by other cities around the country.

August 9, 2004, “Post 9/11 losses force airport to draw down reserve funds”, Austin Monitor

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is turning to its reserve funds to make ends meet in the 2004-05 budget. While passenger traffic is up at the airport, air travel has not fully recovered from the decline following the terrorist attacks of 9/11. That decline still affects the number of passengers flying into and out of Austin, which in turn impacts revenue for the city's Aviation Department.

September 1, 2005, “Terminal Bliss,” Outside

How to deal with layover purgatory? Make airports more fun. We've created the ultimate—a fantasy composite of our favorite terminal amenities from around the world. Airport developers, you are cleared for takeoff.

Amy’s Ice Creams… in Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, sells nine flavors in “ice cream on the fly” packages that stay frozen for up to eight hours (a two-pint travel pack costs $25).

September 22, 2006, “No Limits,” The Austin Chronicle

I was never more aware of that fact than when flying home from Toronto at the end of the week on Friday, the first day of the Austin City Limits Festival. The Austin-Bergstrom Airport was clogged to an extent I had never seen before. The traffic was so heavy it took more than an hour to collect my luggage and a cab. The wait allowed me time to hang out with the gone-but-still-vital presence of Barbara Jordan at her statue near the baggage claim area.

August 7, 2007, “Beyond the bars and bookstores,” NBC News

… while few of us would choose to spend extra time at the airport, the fact is we all are, and we might as well make the best of it.

“The idea is to make the ‘dwell time’ more enjoyable,” says Jim Halbrook, spokesman for Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. “It’s better than sitting around trying to read a book over the security announcements.” From cultural offerings to outdoor activities…

At Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, musical performances are held on a stage next to the Highland Lakes Bar (weekdays, 3:30–5:30 p.m.). Live music is also offered in Lefty’s Bar & Grille and the Hill Country Bar. (The latter is currently closed for renovations but expected to reopen in early September.) for more information.

September 29, 2008, “Snake turned lights off at Austin Airport”, Aviation Herald

Power outages can happen anywhere, including airports of course. But in 2008, an unlikely culprit was to blame for a brief power outage at AUS. The Aviation Herald reported that “a snake is believed to have caused a power outage at Austin's Bergstrom International Airport, TX (USA) last Wednesday around 10pm local time, when the terminal building suddenly went completely black. Backup generators kept the airport's navigation aids, the runway lighting and the control tower active. The terminals however had to be evacuated, passengers on four arriving aircraft were kept on their airplanes.

Austin Energy officials said, they believe a snake cut the supply to two main circuits, that feed the airport with electricity. Power was restored 2:15 hours later, after which normal operations resumed.”

September 2, 2009, “Alaska Airlines Announces New San Jose-Austin Service”, Alaska Airlines

In 2009, Alaska Airlines launched nonstop service from Austin to San Jose, a route still serviced by the carrier today! The airline wrote, “The San Jose-Austin route is a natural extension of our network, providing a vital link between two high-tech hubs”.

March 30, 2010, “Gold Standard Airport Amenities and Activities,” Forbes

Austin, Texas, is a mecca for music and BBQ lovers, and the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is no different. Airport concessions go way beyond fast- food staples to include local vendors, including family-owned The Salt Lick and Ray Benson's Roadhouse. In the Central Concourse live musicians entertain--helping you to experience the Live Music Capital of the World, even if you never leave the airport.

November 1, 2011, “Austin Airport Gets Cell Phone Waiting Lot”, KUT News

No, it’s not an area where cell phones wait, like some people might muse.

A cell phone waiting area is a free parking lot at the airport where you wait until your friend or family member calls to say they’re ready to be picked up. That way, you won’t have to circle around burning up gas, waiting for them to claim their luggage.

November 2, 2011, “Austin Airport’s New Body Scanners Will Be Operational Soon,” KUT News

The first of four new body scanners has arrived at Austin’s airport, courtesy of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

… the TSA says Austin is getting new so-called Advanced Imaging Technology machines. They do not use X-rays, and they come equipped with new software which officials say is less invasive.

May 21, 2012, “Multimillion-dollar facility proposed for ABIA rental cars,” Austin Business Journal

Rental car operations at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport may soon be moved to a new 1.5 million-square-foot facility.

Airport officials said the new facility will provide more space and a one-stop turnaround area for rental car companies, and will free up the close-end parking on the third floor of the parking garage currently occupied by nine rental car companies.

July 19, 2012, “Southwest Airlines Celebrates the Beginning of New Austin to Reagan National Airport Service”, Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines' (NYSE: LUV) service between Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) officially kicked off today with a patriotic sendoff complete with a water arch salute and a customer celebration at the gate this morning in Austin. Southwest Airlines Board Member and Presiding Director Dr. William Cunningham joined U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, U.S. Representative Michael McCaul (TX-10), and City of Austin Aviation Department Executive Director Jim Smith in a morning news conference at AUS to launch the airline's new service.

November 18, 2013, “Near-record traffic expected at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport as F1 visitors fly out,” Austin American-Statesman

The mass exodus of racing fans from around the world began after the U.S. Grand Prix ended Sunday, when most of the private jets left, but peaked Monday when an estimated 21,800 passengers left the airport. The day after the 2012 Grand Prix set the last departure record when 21,823 left.

March 4, 2014, “Austin rolls out the red carpet for British Airways,” USA Today

It was British Airways' Day in Austin on Monday. Literally.

The carrier launched its Austin service Monday (March 3), operating its inaugural flight from London and giving the city its first-ever nonstop service across the Atlantic.

"I hearby proclaim March 3, 2014, as 'British Airways Day' in Austin, Texas," Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell said Monday evening at a press conference to herald British Airways' arrival to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

The mayor lauded the service the "historic" milestone for the booming Texas capital, which becomes one of the smallest non-hub markets in America to land regular airline service to Europe.

October 26, 2015, “First Boeing 777 lands in Austin,” Fox 7 Austin

A Boeing 777 commercial passenger plane landed at the Austin–Bergstrom International Airport Sunday afternoon from London.

Many Austinites were excited to watch the triple-seven make its landing from Europe to the capital city.

…British Airways is the only airline to offer the non-stop service to Europe. The service started back in 2014, and thus far, airport officials say it’s been a success.

January 27, 2016, “Airport expansion to allow 4 million additional travelers every year,” Community Impact

ABIA is a one-terminal, 300,000-square-foot airport, according to the city… the terminal expansion will add 70,000 square feet—a 23 percent increase—and will include new waiting space in the gate areas, concessions, restrooms and more walkways. It will also add nine additional gates for domestic and international flights, he said.

The expansion will occur at the east end of the airport, near gates 1, 2 and 3, where the terminal comes to a dead end.

ABIA’s capacity is 11 million passengers per year… A November statistics report indicated the airport had already accommodated 10.8 million from January to November 2015. Officials predict it will surpass the 11 million mark when the December report is finalized, he said.

December 19, 2017, “City debuts new guitar-shaped bus shelter at ABIA,” Spectrum News

The live music capital of the world has added a musical-themed bus stop at Austin Bergstrom International Airport.

The Capital Metro bus stop includes benches, charging stations and a 55-inch touch screen monitor.

This guitar-shaped bus shelter is located outside the airport near baggage claim.

City Council Member Delia Garza says the new stop is a creative gateway for people using Austin's public transit system.

October 31, 2018, “Austin-Bergstrom International Airport plans expansion as air traffic soars”, Austin Monitor

In 2018, AUS presented the 2040 Master Plan to the Austin City Council. Airport Master Plans are required for all commercial airports by the Federal Aviation Authority. They are long documents that provide a road map for efficiently meeting passenger and airline activity based on forecasts.

In 2019, the Austin Monitor wrote “By 2040, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport staff estimate, that number will nearly double, and ABIA will begin processing more than 31.4 million passengers annually. Luckily, the city is planning for them. Austin City Council members are scheduled to vote Thursday on sending the airport’s 20-year master plan to the Federal Aviation Administration for review.

February 21, 2019, “Major expansion at Austin's airport takes-off”, CBS Austin

A major expansion project at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) took-off on Thursday. The first plane departed at 5:40 a.m. for Atlanta from one of ABIA's nine new gates. The terminal expansion project also adds more restaurants, shopping, a pet relief area and an observation deck. The timing of the opening is a tribute to one of Austin’s most beloved leaders.

May 23, 2019, “20 years of travel: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport celebrates anniversary,” KVUE News

ABIA opened up on May 23, 1999, as the last airport built in the 20th century. It was constructed in the footprint of Bergstrom Air Force Base, replacing the Robert Mueller Municipal Airport that had served Austin's passengers for more than 60 years.

At that time, the new airport was designed to meet the growing need of Central Texas flyers, with more than 6.6 million passengers traveling to 29 nonstop destinations across the U.S. within its first year of operation.

By the year 2018, more than 15.8 million passengers traveled through ABIA to more than 70 destinations across North America and Europe. Today, the airport supports more than 74,000 jobs and has generated an economic impact of more than $7.6 billion in 2018.

July 1, 2020 “ABIA announces new measures to protect travelers and employees during pandemic,” CBS Austin

As passenger traffic gradually increases at Austin's airport, they're outlining new steps being taken to protect travelers and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Next time you're at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport you'll notice standing and digital signs encouraging social distancing, face masks, and handwashing.

November 23, 2020, “Austin's Airport Prepares For Uptick In Holiday Travelers As It Awaits Industry Rebound,” KUT News

Unlike at other airports, the holidays are typically not the busiest time at Austin-Bergstrom. Officials expect that to be different this year since events like ACL and the Formula One race have been canceled.

​“Whether or not to travel, we know, is a personal decision," said Mandy McClendon, a spokesperson for the airport. “On the busiest day since the pandemic, we had about 11,000 outbound folks. On the lowest, we had about 500. And no matter how many travelers come through our doors, we take the same precautions.”

Those precautions include increased sanitation and disinfection procedures, and ubiquitous signs about masks and social distancing. The airport also closed its economy parking lots and lowered its garage pricing, so passengers won’t have to get on shuttles. To simply say COVID-19 caused a devastating blow to passenger volumes would be an understatement; it completely rewired how the airport operated. 

November 8, 2021, “Austin's airport saw a 190% increase in travelers in September compared to last year”, KVUE

Following 2020’s devastating impact on air travel volumes, 2021 marked the start of what would be a swift recovery from the pandemic for AUS. KVUE news wrote, “For the entirety of 2021, Austin's airport has still seen an increase in travelers, but at a lower rate than comparing solely September year-over-year. AUS officials said passenger traffic was up 79.4% from January to September compared to the same timeframe a year ago.”

November 20, 2022, “Airport staff expect another record-breaking year,” Community Impact

May of 2022 marked the first time more than 2 million passengers traveled through AUS in one month. With no sign of stopping, AUS hit a record-breaking 21 million total passengers that year.

"The story of Central Texas has always been growth," Haynes said. "That's why we're doing our airport expansion. It's to meet the needs of today while building out a foundation for long-term success for our community."

To match Austin’s rapid speed of growth, the airport’s 20-year-old baggage handling system was upgraded with a more steadfast system for airlines to channel baggage for departing flights. As one of the first improvements through the Journey With AUS program, conveyor belts are now capable of processing up to 4,000 per hour.  

August 30, 2023, “Austin-Bergstrom International Airport breaks ground on West Gate Expansion project,” KXAN

The Monday following Austin's annual Formula One race, the airport processed over 43,000 passengers, marking October 23, 2023, as the single busiest day in airport history.

With a record-breaking number of 327 commercial aircraft departures, the groundbreaking of the West Gate Expansion earlier that summer plans to aid future exceeding passenger volumes as seen in the past couple of years. 

March 4, 2024, “British Airways marks 10 years at AUS as airport heads into busy SXSW period,” CBS Austin

A global air carrier is celebrating a decade of putting Austin, Texas on their world map. British Airways (BA) is marking ten years of non-stop service between Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and London’s iconic Heathrow Airport.

BA says in the ten years it has served Austin they've filled 1.25 million seats in their direct flights between Austin and London and they're now flying larger aircraft to meet the demand…

As part of their anniversary flights, British Airways passengers got commemorative bottles of Franklin's barbeque sauce or as they call this special batch, BABQ sauce. They're also promising to serve Texas-style brisket and barbeque chicken on their flights this month.

April 2024, “Austin-Bergstrom starts construction on key ‘Journey With AUS’ expansion project to elevate overall travel experience”, Future Travel Experience

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) has started the next major, transformative ‘Journey With AUS’ expansion project – the West Infill and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Checkpoint 3 Expansion. This marks another pivotal moment in the airport’s commitment to enhancing the passenger experience.

The mayor lauded the service the "historic" milestone for the booming Texas capital, which becomes one of the smallest non-hub markets in America to land regular airline service to Europe.The mayor lauded the service the "historic" milestone for the booming Texas capital, which becomes one of the smallest non-hub markets in America to land regular airline service to Europe.The mayor lauded the service the "historic" milestone for the booming Texas capital, which becomes one of the smallest non-hub markets in America to land regular airline service to Europe.The mayor lauded the service the "historic" milestone for the booming Texas capital, which becomes one of the smallest non-hub markets in America to land regular airline service to Europe.The mayor lauded the service the "historic" milestone for the booming Texas capital, which becomes one of the smallest non-hub markets in America to land regular airline service to Europe.