ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) –They’re often one of the most frustrating parts of air travel. But flight delays are also inevitable no matter where you travel in the United States. So, where does Albuquerque’s Sunport stand in the battle to keep airplanes taking off and landing on time?
Each month, the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics compiles data from more than 300 airports across the country. Among the numbers they count are the percent of on-time arrivals and departures. And the data shows Albuquerque’s airport saw on-time arrivals about 77% of the time during February 2023 (the latest available data) and saw on-time departures about 80% of the time.
The numbers rank Albuquerque in the bottom half of the list nationwide. But it might not always make sense to rank the nation’s largest and smallest airports alongside the Sunport.
In February, the Sunport had 1,559 arrivals and the same number of departures. That means it had about the same amount of air traffic as Charleston, South Carolina; Omaha, Nebraska; Louisville, Kentucky; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Even when you compare the Sunport to other airports with similar amounts of traffic, Albuquerque ranks low. Of the 21 airports with the most similar amounts of air traffic, the Sunport ranks number 17 out of 21 for average number of on-time arrivals and departures in February.
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Even among similar-sized airports, Albuquerque’s Sunport ranks relatively low for on-time flights. Data from U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
So, what’s behind the delays? Sometimes issues with individual airlines can stall operations. But things like weather patterns around a given airport can also cause delays.
Diana López Rabadán, the spokesperson for the Sunport, says that Albuquerque generally does have good weather year-round, and that the airport has a good number of gates for flights. But other factors might be slowing down Sunport operations.
For example, López Rabadán says challenges such as pilot and labor shortages, old air traffic control systems and high post-pandemic demand can cause delays. Security issues can also low things down, but that’s a relatively uncommon cause of delays.
“We continuously work with our airline partners to ensure safety and increase operational efficiencies,” López Rabadán adds. “We work diligently to ensure our facilities are well-maintained and our equipment is operational. An example of this can be illustrated in our latest FAA inspection, which we passed with flying colors.”
When it comes to the Sunport, another thing travelers might notice is the construction work in the terminal. Although that work isn’t likely to have an impact on flights, it does have an impact on travelers. López Rabadán says the airport is making progress on those upgrades despite supply chain and labor challenges.
“The Dream of Flight renovation project is proceeding at a healthy pace thus far,” López Rabadán says. “We’re working to reduce the impact of the renovation on passengers and are thrilled to see how well people are adjusting to the changes in passenger flow and the permanent move of the Meet and Greet Area to the Great Hall.”
López Rabadán also adds that those improvements aren’t paid for by taxpayers. The money comes from airport profits.