Austin-Bergstrom International Airport became one of the busiest airports for commercial aviation anywhere in the globe the past few days due to the Austin Grand Prix, one of the prestigious international Formula 1 race events, along with its festivities and concerts in downtown during the week. Close to 300 private planes landed for the race, not counting regular passenger airliners. Atlantic Aviation and Signature Flight Support, the two fixed base operators (FBOs), ran out of ramp space as some of the planes had to be stationed in the remote location by the former South Terminal in the center part of the airfield.
It also seems that a new record number of passengers will be set for the period at the terminal. Apart from this, it is good to know that there has been little in terms of delays and most passenger functions still appear to be operating close to normal, thanks to the great staff and volunteers who are assisting in the process. For those who came early expecting a mad rush, live bands have been playing throughout the terminal for their enjoyment. Last year, on the day after the race, we saw the most people depart the airport ever with over 21,800 passing thru the gates, a record for one day of operation. Passenger data will be published by the airport soon. Sebastian Vettel of Germany, part of the Red Bull Racing team, won this years event on Sunday. This is the second year for this F1 race in Austin, held at the new Circuit of the Americas just south of the airport.
ABIA welcomes Aeromar Airlines, Allegiant Air, and British Airways (March 2014). A record 9.4 million passengers traveled through the airport in 2012 and in 2013, traffic is up 6% year-to-date. For more information, please visit www.abia.org.
Grumman Gulfstream Tails
FBO ramp space was at a limit as F1 private planes began to arrive at ABIA. Many of the race teams own private aircraft to transport their VIPs, sponsors, and owners to the races. Parking space becomes a premium wherever they go. ABIA has good ramp areas which hosted close to 300 of these planes this race week.
Post Race Rush Hour
The moment after any race becomes a mad dash on the departure side. Despite what looks like a long line, the departures or private planes proceeded as smooth as it could have been on the east side of the field and they were blessed with good weather, knowing that parts of the nation were under very severe storms. This did not cause any significant delays of regular passenger planes as they also had the west runway available.
Large Freight Aircraft Part of F1 Races
Formula 1 race cars are transported via freight planes. As opposed to NASCAR racing, which is national and most cars are transported in trucks, the F1 racing is international and must use aviation. ABIA gets a number of these unusual visitors prior and after the race to haul the cars and its equipment. Here is a Saudi Arabian 747-400 Freighter leased from Air Atlanta Icelandic to transport race gear.