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Salt Lake International is the 20th busiest airport in America, FAA report finds

A Delta plane departs from a hangar at the Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City on Thursday, March 11, 2021. The airport had nearly 11 million passengers board in 2021, making it the 20th busiest American airport according to a preliminary report

A Delta plane departs from a hangar at the Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City on Thursday, March 11, 2021. The airport had nearly 11 million passengers board in 2021, making it the 20th busiest American airport according to a preliminary report (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City International had nearly 11 million passengers board in 2021, making it the 20th busiest American airport according to a preliminary report by the Federal Aviation Administration.

After the COVID-19 pandemic cratered travel numbers in 2020, the new numbers show that airports across the country were close to normal last year, but many still have some catching up to do to return to pre-pandemic levels.

The FAA report only counted "enplanements," meaning the numbers don't capture every passenger traveling through the airport. According to internal statistics, the Salt Lake airport served nearly 22.4 million passengers in total in 2021, which is still 17% below the pre-pandemic number recorded in 2019.

All of the top 30 busiest airports saw significant improvements compared to 2020. Austin-Bergstrom International in Austin, Texas, had the largest increase with more than 112%. Salt Lake's 10.8 million boardings in 2021 were 81% more than in 2020, when it had just shy of 6 million.

Busiest airports in the U.S.

Here is a list of the 10 busiest American airports in 2021, along with the number of boardings, according to the FAA:

  1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, 36.7 million boardings.
  2. Dallas-Fort Worth International, 30 million boardings.
  3. Denver International, 28.6 million boardings.
  4. Chicago O'Hare International, 26.4 million boardings.
  5. Los Angeles International, 23.7 million boardings.
  6. Charlotte/Douglas International, 20.9 million boardings.
  7. Orlando International, 19.6 million boardings.
  8. Las Vegas' Harry Reid International, 19.2 million boardings.
  9. Phoenix Sky Harbor International, 18.9 million boardings.
  10. Miami International, 17.5 million boardings.

How Utah's smaller airports fared

The FAA report tracked data from more than 500 airports around the country, including Utah's smaller airports. St. George Regional and Provo Municipal were the state's only other airports to board more than 100,000 passengers, with 153,200 and 118,740, respectively.

Ogden-Hinckley Airport had just under 30,000 boardings — a 236% increase from 2020 — Canyonlands Regional had just over 20,000 and Cedar City Regional had 12,807. Vernal Regional — Utah's smallest airport to be included in the report — had 9,168 boardings.

All of Utah's airports reported increases of at least 50% in traffic when compared to 2020.

Nationally, the slowest airport included in the FAA's report is in Noatak, Alaska. The Noatak Airport — located in remote, northwestern Alaska — counted only 2,506 boardings last year.

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Bridger Beal-Cvetko

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