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Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport Sets New, All-Time Passenger Record

January 19, 2024

Click here to view media gallery including photos and “SDF Busiest Years Ever Derby” animation.

SDF marked its busiest year ever in 2023

The Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF) is celebrating 2023 as its busiest year to date with more than 4.6 million total passengers – setting a new, all-time record for the airport. This is the second time in five years the airport broke its own record and was the first time SDF was the fastest growing airport of the Top 100 airports in the continental U.S.

“This is an amazing accomplishment for SDF as well as our community,” said Dan Mann, Executive Director of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority. “The fact that we’ve surpassed our previous record set in 2019 by nearly 10% is proof of the community’s support as well as the positive relationships with our airlines. I want to say thank you to everyone including our staff, business partners and especially the community who use our airport and support the growth we’re experiencing. This is a significant win that you had a hand in as we create a best-in-class airport at SDF.”

SDF also celebrated individual records for every month in 2023. The busiest was October when a total of 465,821 passengers traveled through the airport. July was second with 452,419 total passengers, followed by 438,966 total passengers in May to round out the top three.

“The Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport is the gateway to our great city and the world, and I am thrilled to celebrate 2023 as the best year ever for the airport with a record number of passengers,” said Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg. “Louisville is a world-class destination, and these numbers show that from tourism to our economy and more, our city is winning. Congratulations to the entire SDF team on this incredible achievement.”

The airlines’ continued investment in the Louisville market was evident in 2023. Last year, capacity – or the number of scheduled seats by the airlines – was up more than 25% compared to 2022 with a high of 86 daily departing flights during peak summer travel. United Airlines injected the largest boost with a 53% capacity growth, followed by Breeze Airways at 41% and American Airlines with 32%. There were 3,000 more departing flights from SDF along with 203,000 more seats on low-cost airlines as well as 3,500 more flights on mainline aircraft with premium passenger services verses the previous year – all indicators SDF is well positioned for continued growth.

“For an airport of our size to experience this level of investment in such a short period of time is a rarity in our industry,” said Anthony Gilmer, Vice President of Air Service Development and Strategic Marketing. “Cities like Austin, Nashville and Raleigh are always known as having rapidly growing airports, and now Louisville is in those conversations as well.”

SDF welcomed Sun Country Airlines in 2023 and added new service to three destinations including top fun-in-the-sun favorite Fort Myers on Breeze Airways. Plus, the airlines upped frequency to 12 currently served destinations by added additional nonstop flights to such cities as Boston, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. The average aircraft size increased to 117 total seats compared to 105 in 2022, more than 11% growth. American, Delta and United all also up-gauged aircraft size on key routes to Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Newark and Washington, D.C., giving the region’s travelers even more options at SDF.

“Louisville’s positive momentum continues to flourish as we celebrate the city’s success within our vital tourism sector,” said Cleo Battle, President and CEO of Louisville Tourism. “From new hotel development to Bourbon distillery expansions and iconic attractions setting their own records – Louisville is on fire. The icing on the cake is celebrating the airport’s 2023 passenger record, which only serves as more proof Bourbon City fully deserves to be listed as one of Travel + Leisure’s ‘50 Best Places to Travel to in 2024.’”

SDF is served by eight commercial airlines – Allegiant, American, Breeze, Delta, Southwest, Spirit, Sun Country and United – with flights to more than 35 nonstop destinations around the country. Annually, the airport averages more than 140 daily passenger flights.

“The energy at SDF is incredible,” added Mann. “The airline’s capacity for the first quarter of 2024 is already up 13% compared to last year. Needless to say, we feel confident looking ahead and believe SDF is well positioned for the future.”

Click here for a fact sheet, SDF by the Numbers in 2023.