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Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport Marks Third Best Year in 2022

February 7, 2023

Click here for Executive Director Dan Mann’s presentation, Building for the Future – 2022: A Year in Review.
Click here for the video, This is Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport.

SDF building for the future with passenger growth and $200-plus million invested to date in SDF Next Program

The Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF) celebrated its third busiest year in 2022 with more than 3.88 million total passengers. SDF is also celebrating the greatest number of nonstop destinations ever at 37 on eight airlines.

“Last year, 2022, was a banner year for us and something we’re very proud of following the recovery from the global pandemic,” said Dan Mann, Executive Director of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority. “In recent years, we welcomed two new airlines, introduced multiple new routes and continued to see tremendous growth of our ultra-low-cost carriers. Our ultra-low-cost carriers have increased their presence at SDF by 139% compared to 2019. These are all big wins for us and benefit the community.”

In recent years, both Spirit Airlines and Breeze Airways launched service at SDF with flights to Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO) respectively. American Airlines also began nonstop service to Boston (BOS), with the announcement that a second daily flight would begin in April 2023. In addition, Sun Country Airlines will begin service from Louisville with nonstop flights to Minneapolis (MSP) this Spring.

SDF’s capacity recovery following the global pandemic remains strong. For the first quarter of 2023, SDF has 110% capacity (the number of seats the airlines schedule), compared to the same time in 2019, which was the airport’s best year ever. Louisville’s airport is besting the national average by nine points while outpacing regional airports including Cincinnati (CVG) by 14 points and Lexington (LEX) by 26 points.

“I thank our community for continuing to support the growth we’re seeing at SDF,” added Mann. “The airlines recognize the strength of our market and are clearly responding with more seats, bigger aircraft and new routes. Looking ahead, we’re optimistic and believe 2023 could be another record year at SDF.”

The SDF Next Program continues to see success as more than $127 million has been invested to date in the passenger journey at the Jerry E. Abramson Terminal. This includes completion of the new Airport Operations Center, a new rental car facility, new restrooms in baggage claim, replacement of 17 passenger boarding bridges as well as new elevators, escalators and moving walkways. Plus, work is progressing on SDF’s $21.7 million geothermal project that will be the largest of any airport in the U.S. and provide a 40% energy reduction compared to traditional heating and cooling systems.

“If you look at the work happening as part of the SDF Next Program, it’s incredible what we’ve accomplished in a short time,” said Mann. “We have invested an additional $76 million on the airfield, and when combined with the terminal, that’s a total investment of more than $200 million to date.”

Upcoming SDF Next projects include an expanded security checkpoint, improvements to baggage claim such as reconfigured baggage carousels and a new Information Center and updates to the building’s exterior.

SDF remains a global leader in cargo operations as the world’s 6th busiest cargo airport – and 3rd in North America – according to Airports Council International (ACI) World’s annual World Airport Traffic Report.  As home of UPS Worldport® and base of UPS Airlines, there are more than 380 daily cargo flights that come and go from Louisville, carrying life-saving cargo around the globe. This past year, 2022, was the best year ever for cargo with 6.76 million pounds of cargo through SDF.

“The bottom line is SDF continues to be an economic engine for our region,” said Mann. “Whether passenger services or cargo, the numbers show us that because of the airports’ operations in Louisville, $451.1 million is contributed to state and local taxes, which is nearly $1 in every $7 in Louisville Metro stems from here. We’re proud of that, and especially glad we support more than 82,000 direct and indirect jobs that equals one in eight jobs in Louisville Metro. This is all because of the great things happening at SDF.”