Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Formula One bringing in more than 60 charter flights to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (KAUS), Austin, Texas

Austin-Bergstrom Airport officials already know more than 60 charter flights will be arriving for the Formula One race next month—and that number could rise in the next week. 

One 747 jumbo jet is already on the reservation list, as are several other jets that can hold upwards of 225 passengers a piece.

Dale Murphy is chair of the Austin Aviation Advisory Commission, and was briefed on the anticipated air traffic Tuesday evening.

"It's a big influx over a short amount of time for us, but the airport really has the capacity currently to handle it," Murphy said.

The planes will stay in different areas of the airport over Formula One weekend.

ABIA's Jim Halbrook says the charter reservations list does not include smaller aircraft or those landing at neighboring airports.

Right now, ABIA and federal aviation officials are considering permits for two temporary helicopter landing zones in Austin with specific routes to and from the Circuit of the Americas track.

"It is going to take them north of this airport, and another one may go south,” Halbrook said. “I don't know, but they will be well out of the way of our air traffic approaches."

Halbrook says while passengers will be arriving at different times throughout the weekend, they will all want to leave by Monday or Tuesday, just days away from the Thanksgiving holiday.

"Which seems to be right before the big hit for folks leaving for the holidays and coming in for the holidays,” Murphy said. “It's definitely tight."

Security lines during the busy travel days could take more than one hour to clear.

"Consider your commute to the airport,” Halbrook said. “You may want to leave much earlier to get to the airport than you normally would."

ABIA is also seeing more passengers outside of major events like the Austin City Limits Music Festival and Formula One.

Halbrook says passengers returned three times the number of rental cars Monday. That may have been due, in part, to the UT game against West Virginia.

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