Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport had a landmark year in 2019, with a record number of passengers passing through its terminals.
The Metropolitan Airports Commission announced that 39,555,036 passengers flew to or from MSP in 2019, 4 percent more than in 2018.
It's the third straight record year in a row for the airport, and the first time it's ever surpassed 39 million travelers.
MAC CEO Brian Ryks said the record was down to a combination of the strong economy, new routes, and increased competition.
Delta, comfortably the biggest carrier taking 71.2 percent of travelers, increased its passenger numbers by 4 percent, while Twin Cities-based Sun Country – the second largest carrier with 7.5 percent of passengers – increased its traveler numbers by 22 percent.
While MSP is a huge Delta hub, 2019 was a big travel year for Minnesotans, with 63 percent of the 39.5 million travelers passing through the airport having originated from the Twin Cities airport, compared to 58 percent in 2018.
By contract, travelers taking connecting flights comprised 37 percent in 2019, compared to 42 percent a year ago.
"An ongoing shift in MSP’s passenger mix, with local demand driving much of the increase in activity, continues to put pressure on front-of-house facilities such as curbside passenger pick-up and drop-off, airline check-in and bag check, security screening and bag claim," said Ryks.
"We are in the process of a massive multi-year project to expand and improve those facilities at Terminal 1. The rapid growth in local air travel demand highlights how critical that project is now and for the future.”
The new routes added in 2019 include Delta flights to Seoul, Mexico City, Charleston and Sarasota; Aer Lingus flights to Dublin; a Southwest route to Dallas; and Sun Country routes to 9 U.S. cities.
The record was achieved despite a slight decrease in the number of takeoffs and landings from MSP, down 0.2 percent on 2018 and significantly less than the 541,093 landings and takeoffs in 2004.
The passenger growth has been driven by airlines adding seats and flying larger craft from the Twin Cities.
The top five airlines flying from MSP in 2019 (including their regional affiliates) were:
1. Delta 71.2%
2. Sun Country 7.5%
3. American 5.4%
4. Southwest 4.8%
5. United 4.2%