Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is currently a mess. It isn’t yet summer, and surging air travel through Austin has already caused a jet fuel shortage at AUS, hours-long wait times at TSA checkpoints and even chaos at car rental lots. But the higher number of travelers has shown that AUS was undersupplied not only with jet fuel, but with workers, too, as KXAN and KUT report.
It turns out there aren’t nearly enough TSA agents at AUS to handle the number of travelers. It’s become so bad, that agents refuse to transfer to Austin and, elsewhere, are resigning, which has left the TSA severely understaffed. That’s according to the chair of the Airport Advisory Commission, who tweeted this:
After that tweetstorm, state and local officials argued over who’s to blame, but airport executives later said they’ve been requesting more TSA, Customs and Border Patrol agents since before the travel surge. The airport had even received 40 additional TSA agents back in 2021, but they were on a short-term basis.
And despite these “supplemental” agents being only provisional, airlines kept adding more and more flights at AUS. It’s like a perfect storm of way more passengers and the pandemic and the fuel and the workers missing. Ugh.
Also, as if that weren’t enough, the Airport’s proposal to expand and add more fuel storage tanks has run into problems, now that some Austin residents say the construction of the fuel facility could be hazardous to their health and the environment, from KVUE:
But neighbors who live near the proposed site aren’t convinced that the review was enough. Austin City Councilmember Vanessa Fuentes, who represents the area, told KVUE that there is more work to be done.
“Residents living near the airport were not aware of the proposed jet fuel site location, and so many of the concerns came about from not knowing what was going on, what that meant to have a jet fuel site located in the vicinity and [they] wanted to know about the environmental impacts,” Fuentes told KVUE in December.
So, there’s quite a bit of problems plaguing Austin-Bergstrom this year. At the very least, there aren’t issues with influx and presumably revenue, since AUS officials underestimated demand. They expected 2022 to match the pre-pandemic record of 17.3 million passengers per year (2017,) but that projection was wrong. It looks like passengers in 2022 could exceed 20 million, per KXAN.
And Austin has a big weekend ahead with MotoGP at COTA and the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show both going on. Some Jalopnik staffers will be there covering the events, and I can’t say how happy I am to be driving in, rather than flying.