News from the MAC Chair, October 2022

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For the first time in three years, Minnesota leaders gathered at our State of the Airport Luncheon to celebrate Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport’s role in our state. While the pandemic brought unprecedented disruption to our industry, the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) continues to navigate a path to recovery for our airports, which in turn supports our region’s recovery as well. The room of nearly 400 business, public and social sector leaders was a reflection of the many partnerships that make our airport system what it is and provide the foundation for what it can be in the future. It was a reminder of how inextricably linked we all are as we work toward our shared goal of a thriving and successful community.

Air service plays a critical role in creating that thriving community – fueling important business connections, leisure travel and tourism. We are seeing positive trends as MSP passenger levels have now reached 75-80% of pre-pandemic levels. This summer, MSP airlines operated a peak of 200 routes, up from 187 at the same time last year. We’re also seeing a continued rebound for international travel with several new and returning routes, including Seoul, London, Montreal, Vancouver and Frankfurt. As of this month, there are 25 international destinations, compared to 30 pre-pandemic, with Grand Cayman service starting up in December. 

The return of the Seoul service – MSP’s longest route at more than 6,200 miles – provides a gateway to more than 30 connections across Asia. Delta Air Lines launched the service in spring 2019 thanks to the work of the Regional Air Services Partnership, a partnership with GREATER MSP, which provides feedback from the business community that we can share with our airlines to identify new destinations or strengthen existing air service.


Our strong partnerships also include our local communities, with whom we collaborate to showcase our great state and world-class airports. Just last month, we were honored to host the 2022 Airports Council International-North America Annual Conference and Exhibition in partnership with Meet Minneapolis. The event brought more than 2,000 attendees representing hundreds of North American airports including a record number of CEOs, as well as those from major aviation manufacturers and service providers. MAC CEO and Executive Director Brian Ryks hosted a fireside chat with Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines (pictured), and Gov. Tim Walz shared a welcome to attendees. In his remarks, the Governor said, “Here in Minnesota, we have a strong community of businesses, nonprofits and civic leaders who understand and rely on the economic and cultural impact of a strong, thriving airport system.” We thank Gov. Walz for his enthusiastic support for MSP and the work we’re doing to support air travel in our region.


The Twin Cities was also host to several other major events in the past year, including the NCAA Women’s Final Four, the Major League Soccer All-Star Game, and other large-scale conferences and conventions, for which we curated unique and engaging events and programming at MSP to welcome attendees. And earlier this month, Brian Ryks joined civic and corporate leaders to present to an international delegation in support of the United States’ bid to host the 2027 World Expo in Bloomington. A winning bid – to be announced in June 2023 – would have an estimated $2.5 billion economic impact on Minnesota’s economy. 

As the front door to our great state, the MAC continues to make investments in MSP to ensure a quality, unforgettable experience for travelers. Recent investments of $900 million through a series of projects have modernized Terminal 1’s ticketing and baggage areas, and increased parking capacity and multi-modal transportation options. We’ve recently expanded gate areas and concessions and another $240 million will be invested in concourse improvements over the next three years. Throughout all these updates, we are embracing technology to further streamline the passenger experience – using digital signage throughout the terminals to provide real-time data and connect travelers to the services they need.

All these opportunities and investments are informed by our partnerships with airlines, tenants, feedback from travelers and the needs of our community. Working together, we are building a stronger airport system that furthers the success of this incredible place we call home.  


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Rick King
Metropolitan Airports Commission