If the Salt Lake City International Airport seemed busier in 2023 than in years past, it’s because it was. A record number of travelers made their way through the terminals last year.
From Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, the airport recorded 26,952,754 passengers, breaking its previous record by nearly 145,000. In 2019, it reported 26,808,014 passengers.
Airport officials attributed the growth primarily to an increase in the number of international passengers. The number of international passengers hit a record 1,323,294 last year, compared to 1,115,861 in 2019. Domestic travelers were down about 63,000 from four years ago.
Bill Wyatt, airport executive director, said he couldn’t have predicted the tremendous rebound in passenger traffic when the new airport opened three-plus years ago.
“The robust Utah economy has certainly played a role in the growth as has our incredible partnership with our hub carrier, Delta Air Lines, and the connectivity they provide, with global partners in Canada, Europe and Mexico,” he said in a press release.
Delta currently flies nonstop from Salt Lake City to Amsterdam, London and Paris. Delta and Aeromexico flights to Mexican destinations performed exceptionally well during the pandemic, according to the airport. Also, KLM offers seasonal nonstop flights to Amsterdam, while Discover provided nonstop service to Frankfurt in 2022 and 2023.
The former Salt Lake airport, which closed in fall 2020, was built to accommodate 10 million passengers and was operating at nearly three times capacity in 2019.
The Salt Lake airport is the 21st busiest in the United States and the 70th busiest in the world, with nearly 300 flights a day to more than 90 destinations. It is currently undergoing a $5.1 billion redevelopment program. Phase 3, including a new central tunnel, concourse B plaza and five gates along with 12 concessions, is scheduled to open in the fall.