ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – It’s the biggest airport in the state, the Albuquerque International Sunport. Built 75-years-ago, pictures show the place was a booming business packed with travelers. But today, it’s a difference picture. The departure area is nearly empty.
“Our numbers are down about 25-percent,” said Sunport Spokesperson Daniel Jiron.
In 2007, more than 6.5 million people flew in or out of the Sunport. Last year, only 5 million people. Jiron says the economy has a lot to do with it.
“It hit the entire country. Albuquerque it was a little slower to hit here, we are a little bit slower to recover from it,” said Jiron.
Nearly two thirds of people who fly, fly because of work. Jiron says Albuquerque just doesn’t attract the kind of business travel that airlines bank on.
“A lot of these carriers who did a a lot of point-to-point flying are realizing the profit is flying to those larger airports,” said Jiron. “The medium hubs are suffering.”
In the last five years, the airport has lost more than 25-percent of its flights, including almost 20 direct routes because airlines say the demand just isn’t there. It’s been especially hard for people who travel often.
“I’d love to get anywhere in one stop, but I usually have to stop in Dallas or Denver or somewhere else,” said Michele Huff.
The city is now offering incentives to lure airlines back to the Sunport. Jiron says it could be years before the number of flights pick up.
“When recovery comes we will be ready,” said Jiron.
The Albuquerque International Sunport also isn’t living up to its name these days. It doesn’t have any international flights.
All week the Sunport is celebrating its 75-years in business. On Saturday morning they’re having a 5K on the runway. They’re also hosting a tug and run where teams of 20 will try their best to pull a Boeing 727 from one spot on the runway to another.
All of the proceeds from the events will go to the Animal Welfare Department. There will be animals up for adoption at the event. It begins at 8:00 a.m.