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Albuquerque International Sunport

Albuquerque International Sunport
Airport type Public
Owner City of Albuquerque
Operator Albuquerque Aviation Department
Serves Albuquerque, New Mexico, US
Location 2200 Sunport Boulevard SE
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Elevation AMSL 5,355 ft / 1,632 m
ABQ is located in New Mexico
Location of the Albuquerque International Sunport
Direction Length Surface
ft m
3/21 10,000 3,048 Concrete
8/26 13,793 4,204 Concrete
12/30 6,000 1,829 Concrete
Statistics (2012, 2014)
Aircraft operations (2014) 130,002
Based aircraft (2012) 172
Passengers (2014) 4,871,901
Sources: airport website[1] and FAA[2]

Albuquerque International Sunport (ICAO: KABQFAA LID: ABQ) is a public airport 3 miles (5 km) southeast of downtown Albuquerque, in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, United States.[2] It is the largest commercial airport in the state, handling 4,871,901 passengers in 2014.[3] The airport serves Albuquerque and Santa Fe (also served by Santa Fe Municipal Airport).


  • History 1
    • Historical Airline Service 1.1
    • Military facilities and operations 1.2
    • Future developments 1.3
  • Facilities and aircraft 2
  • Terminal 3
  • Airlines and destinations 4
    • Passenger 4.1
    • Cargo 4.2
  • Statistics 5
    • Airline market share 5.1
    • Top domestic destinations 5.2
    • Annual traffic 5.3
    • Aircraft operations 5.4
  • General aviation support 6
  • Ground transportation 7
    • Bus 7.1
    • Commuter train 7.2
    • Scheduled shuttle bus service 7.3
    • Taxi 7.4
  • Incidents and accidents 8
  • Amenities 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


Albuquerque was originally served by two private airports. Oxnard Field was the first to open in 1928 followed by West Mesa Airport, also known as the TWA airport, in 1930. The first airlines to serve the airports were Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT), Western Air Express (WAE), and Mid Continent Air Express, all inaugurating service in 1929. At first the airlines operated from Oxnard Field (which was also deemed Albuquerque Airport) but moved to the West Mesa Airport for most of the 1930s decade. TAT and WAE merged in 1930 to form Transcontinental and Western Air (TWA) and Mid Continent Air Express' service was replaced by Varney Speed Lines in 1934. Three years later Varney changed their name to become Continental Airlines. In 1935 it was suggested that the city build a new public airport using WPA money. Having secured US$520,500 in funding, Governor Clyde Tingley broke ground for the project on February 28, 1937. Albuquerque Municipal Airport opened in 1939 with two paved runways, a Pueblo Style terminal building designed by Ernest Blumenthal, and a massive hangar designed to accommodate the new Boeing 307 operated by TWA which became Trans World Airlines in 1946.[4] Monarch and Arizona Airways both came to Albuquerque in the late 1940s then merged to become Frontier Airlines in 1950. The airport was renamed Albuquerque Sunport on April 17, 1963.

The April 1957 OAG shows 31 weekday departures: 13 on Continental Airlines, 12 on TWA and 6 on Frontier Airlines. Trans-Texas Airways (later changing to Texas International Airlines) came to Albuquerque in 1963 rounding out the first four carriers to serve the airport prior to the airline deregulation act of 1978.

The present terminal was designed by William E. Burk Jr.[5] and built just east of the original terminal opening on November 12, 1965. At first the terminal had eight gates, four at the main building and another four at a small satellite building to the south connected by an underground tunnel. None of the gates had jetbridges. The terminal has since been expanded several times, first in 1971 when a west wing was added with a large gate able to handle new wide-body aircraft. TWA utilized this gate by introducing the Lockheed L-1011 to Albuquerque in 1974 with flights to Chicago. After airline deregulation was passed in 1978, a flood of new airlines came to ABQ and the west wing was expanded in 1980 with three more gates, all of which had jetbridges and received extensive use by TWA and many new carriers. Southwest Airlines started service on April 3, 1980 using the old gates 1 and 2 and installed three ground level jetbridges at these two gates. From 1987 through 1989 the terminal underwent a massive expansion and renovation which was designed by Phillip Jacobson and BPLW Associates.[5] The satellite gate building was replaced with two concourses, A and B, giving the Sunport 19 new gates, all with jetbridges. Concourse A was further expanded in 1996 with four additional gates and the new above ground connector link to the concourses was greatly expanded in the early 2000s to accommodate the need for additional security screening by the TSA after the events of 9/11/2001. The airport gained international status and was renamed the Albuquerque International Airport on September 27, 1971 and changed to the Albuquerque International Sunport in 1994. The old terminal of 1939 has been restored and houses offices of the Transportation Security Administration. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

Historical Airline Service

Weekday departures at the Sunport peaked at 163 in December, 1995 and again in August, 2001 but has dropped to less than half that figure in 2015. Currently the Sunport is served by Alaska, American, Delta, jetBlue, Southwest, United, US Airways, and Boutique Airlines. In the past Albuquerque has seen service by the following commercial airlines: TWA, Continental, Frontier, Texas International, Eastern, Western, Northwest, America West, Braniff, Pan Am, Wein Air Alaska, PSA, Reno Air, Western Pacific, AeroMexico, and a second Frontier Airlines. TWA was the grandfather carrier since passenger flights commenced in 1929 as Albuquerque was one of many stops on the carrier's mainline route between Los Angeles and New York, tucked in between Winslow, AZ and Amarillo, TX. TWA consistently expanded with larger aircraft and peaked in 1979 operating 21 daily departures to 13 major cities including nonstops to Los Angeles and New York. Their service continued until Dec 2, 2001 when the carrier merged with American Airlines. Continental Airlines was the second major player serving Albuquerque since 1934 as a stop on their mainline north-south route between Denver and El Paso. In 1940 Continental added new service to several cities in Southeastern New Mexico and since expanded with jets to peak at 24 daily departures to eight cities in the summer of 1977. Continental merged with United Airlines in 2012. Frontier Airlines first came to Albuquerque in 1946 as Monarch Airlines and provided flights to smaller cities throughout the four corners states. Service was expanded in the 1960s with Boeing 727 and 737 jets to Denver and Tucson and direct flights to Mexico were added in the early 1980s but the carrier closed down in 1986. In 1963 Trans-Texas Airways (TTa) took over service to the smaller cities in New Mexico that Continental had served and later expanded with nonstop Douglas DC-9 jets to Dallas and Los Angeles. TTa, which later became Texas International, also flew DC-9's from ABQ to Santa Fe and Roswell, NM before they merged with Continental in 1982. Southwest expanded quickly creating a hub at ABQ, taking over the number one spot by the early 1980s and peaked with 66 daily departures in October 2001. Although Southwest has cut back significantly since then, so far they have served 26 cities nonstop from ABQ. American, Delta, and United Airlines have also had major roles at the airport since the early 1980s. At least 34 commuter and regional airlines have served ABQ under their own brand, the largest by far was Mesa Airlines which served the Sunport from 1981 through 2007. Mesa peaked with 46 daily departures in 1990 and served 18 cities nonstop from ABQ to points throughout New Mexico and Colorado. Mesa still serves ABQ but now as a regional airline providing feeder for flights for American Eagle, United Express, and US Airways Express using small jets. Other regional airlines currently serving the airport on behalf of the majors are; SkyWest, Republic, ExpressJet, Shuttle America, GoJet, and Envoy. Allegiant and Sun Country Airlines also serve ABQ with regular public charter flights to Laughlin, Reno, and Wendover, Nevada.[6]

Military facilities and operations

The Sunport began a new role in 1940 when it was designated Albuquerque Army Air Base, the precursor to today's Kirtland Air Force Base. The airport continues to share its runways with Kirtland AFB, which also handles rescue and firefighting operations. An Air Force Material Command (AFMC) installation, the host unit is the 377th Air Base Wing (377 ABW). Flying units at Kirtland AFB consist of the 58th Special Operations Wing (58 SOW) of the Air Education and Training Command (AETC) and the 150th Fighter Wing (150 FW), an Air Combat Command (ACC)-gained unit of the New Mexico Air National Guard.

Future developments

The Airport Master Plan drafted in 2002 lays out intermediate- and long-term projects at the Sunport, including the removal of Runway 17/35 and the construction of a second terminal when traffic demands it. The runway closure recommendation was based on safety, noise abatement, and the cost of upkeep. Because 17/35 intersected all three of the other runways, it ran the highest risk of runway incursions. The runway was closed in Summer 2012, and the tarmac is currently used for taxiing aircraft, as well as a firefighting training aircraft located on the north end.[7] The configuration of the other three runways, in conjunction with typical wind patterns, were able to handle departures and landings more efficiently.

In the longer term, the plan calls for a new terminal to be built to the northeast of the existing terminal. A people mover system will connect the terminal with parking facilities and the existing terminal.[8]

Facilities and aircraft

Albuquerque International Sunport Airport covers 2,039 acres (825 ha) and has three runways. In 2014 the airport had 130,002 aircraft operations, an average of 356 per day: 40% scheduled commercial, 21% air taxi, 24% general aviation and 15% military. In 2006, there were 322 aircraft based at this airport: 33% multi-engine, 30% single-engine, 18% military, 13% jet and 7% helicopter.[2] ABQ's terminal, which was expanded in the late 1980s, and again to its present size in 1996, encompasses 574,000 sq ft (53,300 m²) of space. The airport has a Pueblo Revival style passenger terminal which houses two concourses and an area for commuter airline gates.

The largest passenger aircraft scheduled into Albuquerque is the Boeing 757, operated by Delta Air Lines on flights from Atlanta and Minneapolis during spring, summer, and fall. The largest passenger aircraft the Sunport usually sees is a FedEx McDonnell Douglas DC-10 to Memphis. The largest aircraft of any type to regularly visit the Sunport is the C-5 Galaxy. In 1974 and again from 1982 through 1992 the airport had scheduled Trans World Airlines Lockheed L-1011s.


Banner inside the airport terminal listing Albuquerque's sister cities

Albuquerque International Sunport has one terminal with 25 gates in four concourses, including a concourse for commuter airline gates. Concourse A has 13 gates: A1 – A12, A14. Concourse B has 9 gates: B1, B3-B10 (Gate B2 was removed during the security hall and low B gate bathroom expansion). Concourse E has 2 gates: E1 & E2.[9] Concourse C, originally known as the west wing, consisted of four gates (11, 12, 14, & 15). Gate 11 was closed when the terminal was expanded in 1989 and the remaining three gates were renumbered to C1, C2, & C3. TWA continued to use these gates for a few more years until gates C2 and C3 showed signs of structural failure and later had to be demolished. TWA moved to concourse B and the lobby area of gate C1 (the gate built in 1971) has mostly been converted to office space. The lower level of gate C1 houses U. S. Customs and is still used for occasional international arriving flights. The Sunport last saw regular international service in 2009 by AeroMexico Connect with flights to Chihuahua, Mexico. Concourse D was a ground-level commuter aircraft concourse that was used by Great Plains Airlines. It was closed in 2004 after Great Plains Airlines liquidated due to insolvency.[10]

Airlines and destinations


Airlines Destinations Concourse
Alaska Airlines Seattle/Tacoma B
American Airlines Dallas/Fort Worth, Phoenix B
American Eagle Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Phoenix B
Boutique Air Carlsbad, Los Alamos (NM), Silver City E
Delta Air Lines Atlanta
Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul, Salt Lake City
Delta Connection Salt Lake City B
JetBlue Airways New York-JFK B
Southwest Airlines Baltimore, Chicago-Midway, Dallas-Love, Denver, Houston-Hobby, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oakland, Phoenix, Portland (OR), San Diego
Seasonal: Orlando, Seattle/Tacoma
United Airlines Seasonal: Houston-Intercontinental A
United Express Houston-Intercontinental, Los Angeles, San Francisco A


Airlines Destinations
FedEx Express Lubbock, Memphis, Oklahoma City
FedEx Feeder
operated by Empire Airlines
Durango, Farmington, Gallup
UPS Airlines Dallas/Ft. Worth, El Paso, Louisville, Ontario, Phoenix


Airline market share

Carrier shares: Aug 2014 – Jul 2015[11]
Carrier Passengers (arriving and departing)

Top domestic destinations

Top domestic destinations: (Aug. 2014 – July 2015)[11]
Rank City Airport Passengers Airline(s)
1 Phoenix, AZ Phoenix Sky Harbor International (PHX) 332,000 Southwest, US Airways
2 Dallas/Fort Worth, TX Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW) 281,000 American
3 Denver, CO Denver International (DEN) 204,000 Southwest, United
4 Dallas, TX Dallas Love Field (DAL) 169,000 Southwest
5 Los Angeles, CA Los Angeles International (LAX) 147,000 American, Southwest, United
6 Las Vegas, NV McCarran International (LAS) 144,000 Southwest
7 Atlanta, GA Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (ATL) 137,000 Delta
8 Houston, TX William P. Hobby (HOU) 105,000 Southwest
9 Chicago, IL Chicago-Midway 83,000 Southwest
10 Oakland, CA Oakland International Airport (OAK) 82,000 Southwest

Annual traffic

Annual passenger traffic (enplaned + deplaned) at ABQ, 1990 thru 2014[12]
Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers
2010 5,796,373 2000 6,292,458 1990 4,987,713
2009 5,888,811 1999 6,152,493
2008 6,489,323 1998 6,149,197
2007 6,668,706 1997 6,290,018
2006 6,487,276 1996 6,618,751
2005 6,466,435 1995 6,130,451
2014 4,871,901 2004 6,320,142 1994 6,158,300
2013 5,065,179 2003 6,064,418 1993 5,603,248
2012 5,382,223 2002 6,117,645 1992 5,264,577
2011 5,697,625 2001 6,181,606 1991 4,938,431

Aircraft operations

The data below lists annual total aircraft operations from 2004–2014 from the FAA's Air Traffic Activity System. The percent changes indicate an average of −3.50% in aircraft operations per year over the last 10 years.[13]

Aircraft Operations: ABQ 2004–2014[13]
Calendar year Aircraft operations %
2004 197,657
2005 196,699 −0.48%
2006 192,241 −2.27%
2007 190,780 −0.76%
2008 180,553 −5.36%
2009 158,529 −12.20%
2010 156,616 −1.21%
2011 154,140 −1.58%
2012 147,724 −4.16%
2013 136,915 −7.32%
2014 130,069 −5.00%

The airport's freight center moved 60,000 short tons (54,000 t) of cargo in 2013, a 7% decline from 64,000 short tons (58,000 t) during the 2012 calendar year.[14][15]

General aviation support

Support for private, corporate, and general aviation aircraft pilots and passengers are handled by two fixed-base operators at Albuquerque International Sunport: Atlantic Aviation and Cutter Aviation and Albuquerque Aero services which handles Avionics and Electrical. All three are located on the Southeast section of the airport off Clark Carr Loop.

Ground transportation


ABQ RIDE offers bus service (Routes 50, 222, and 250) at the south side of the baggage claim area.

Commuter train

ABQ RIDE Route 222 provides connecting service to the New Mexico Rail Runner Express Bernallilo County/International Sunport Station, while ABQ RIDE Route 250 provides nonstop service to the Alvarado Transportation Center in Downtown Albuquerque. The Rail Runner provides service both north and south of the airport, including Downtown Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Scheduled shuttle bus service

Regularly scheduled bus and shuttle service is provided by various carriers to locations from ABQ to the city as well as Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Taxis can be hailed through the Ground Transportation employees outside the baggage claim areas.

Incidents and accidents

  • On February 19, 1955, TWA Flight 260, a Martin 4-0-4 bound for Santa Fe, crashed into the Sandia Mountains shortly after takeoff. All 16 people on board the flight were killed.[16]
  • On September 11, 1958, a USAF F-102 Delta Dagger slid off the end of Runway 35 in heavy rain and struck a car on Gibson Boulevard before coming to rest in an empty lot on the north side of the street. Both occupants of the car were killed.[17]
  • On November 3, 1973, National Airlines Flight 27, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10, suffered a catastrophic engine failure while en route from Houston to Las Vegas. Shrapnel from the engine struck the fuselage and caused an explosive decompression of the aircraft. One passenger was blown out of the cabin. The plane was able to make an emergency landing at ABQ.[18]
  • On September 14, 1977, a USAF Boeing EC-135 crashed into the Manzano Mountains just after takeoff, killing all 20 people on board.[19]
  • On July 6, 1997, Delta Air Lines Flight 1470, a Boeing 727 suffered a right landing gear failure after landing on Runway 21. While there were no fatalities, 3 people were injured and the aircraft suffered serious damage.[20]


  • The Sunport had been providing free internet through wi-fi. In February 2005, the Sunport was voted one of the top five U.S. airports for wireless access, according to a Microsoft Small Business Center poll. Sunport was the only one among the top 5 that provided free internet.[21] The service is still provided free to this date.
  • There is a free cell phone parking area, where meeters and greeters can park and wait for a call from their arriving passenger before driving to the front of the terminal for pickup.
  • There are two free aircraft observation areas.


  1. ^ "Airport". City of Albuquerque. Retrieved September 4, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c FAA Airport Master Record for ABQ (Form 5010 PDF), effective June 5, 2008
  3. ^ "Facts and Figures". Albuquerque International Sunport. City of Albuquerque. Retrieved September 4, 2015. 
  4. ^ Biebel, Charles D. (1986). Making the Most of It: Public Works in Albuquerque during the Great Depression 1929–1942. Albuquerque, New Mexico: The Albuquerque Museum. pp. 66–67. 
  5. ^ a b Price, Vincent Barrett (2003) [1992]. Albuquerque: A City at the End of the World (2nd ed.). Albuquerque, New Mexico: University of New Mexico Press. p. 36.  
  6. ^ timetables from all the airlines that have served Albuquerque
  7. ^ "FedEx Donates Boeing 727-200F Aircraft to Albuquerque International Sunport". City of Albuquerque. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  8. ^ Coffman Associates (September 2002). Albuquerque International Sunport, Airport Master Plan, Executive Summary (PDF) (Report). Retrieved August 14, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Terminal Level 2 Ticketing Level" (PDF) (Map). Albuquerque International Sunport (City of Albuquerque). Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  10. ^ Miles, Tom (March 4, 2010). "Albuquerque Sunport turned 70!". YouTube. Retrieved March 5, 2015. 
  11. ^ a b "Albuquerque, NM: Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ)".  
  12. ^ Sunport Passenger History (PDF) (Report). Albuquerque International Sunport/City of Albuquerque. Retrieved September 4, 2015. 
  13. ^ a b "Air Traffic Activity System". Retrieved October 29, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Sunport Facts & Figures". City of Albuquerque. Retrieved October 29, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Sunport Facts & Figures". City of Albuquerque. Archived from the original on September 22, 2013. Retrieved October 29, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Aviation Safety Network: Aircraft accident description Martin 4-0-4 N40416 – Sandia Mountain, NM". Aviation Safety Network. February 19, 1955. Retrieved April 14, 2012. 
  17. ^ Palmer, Mo (August 10, 2006). "Remembering past tragedies." The Albuquerque Tribune.
  18. ^ "Aircraft accident description McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10 N60NA – Socorro, NM". Aviation Safety Network. November 3, 1973. Retrieved April 14, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Air Force Plane Crashes in New Mexico; 20 Dead".  
  20. ^ Factual Report Aviation Boeing 727-247 N2809W (PDF) (Report). National Transportation Safety Board. July 6, 1997. Retrieved September 4, 2015. 
  21. ^ O'Hara, Sean (August 7, 2005). "Sunport's free WiFi service grabbing national attention". Albuquerque Business First. Retrieved September 4, 2015. 

External links

  • Albuquerque International Sunport
  • Del Sol Aviation
  • Jeppesen airport diagram for 1955
  • Jeppesen airport diagram for 1965
  • FAA Airport Diagram (PDF), effective June 23, 2016
  • FAA Terminal Procedures for ABQ, effective June 23, 2016
  • Resources for this airport:
    • AirNav airport information for KABQ
    • ASN accident history for ABQ
    • FlightAware airport information and live flight tracker
    • NOAA/NWS latest weather observations
    • SkyVector aeronautical chart for KABQ
    • FAA current ABQ delay information
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