Explore Statistics on Air Travel in Tucson, Arizona MSA
How are we doing?
The Tucson airport ranked near the bottom of comparable airports with 3.9 seats per capita available annually in 2022. The graph below highlights the substantial differences between hub and non-hub airports. For example, Denver and Las Vegas were the top-ranking hub airports in our comparison region with 26.9 seats per capita in 2022, while San Diego had only 8.3 seats per capita as the top-ranking non-hub airport. Hub airports have a considerably higher number of annual seats per capita, and departures per day, in order to accommodate connecting passengers. The number of seats per capita for the Tucson airport increased by 16.8% in 2022. Air travel has rebounded over the past two years from the losses experienced in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Why is it important?
Annual seats per capita and departures per day are important determinants of an airport’s financial health, regional economic impact, and the availability of air transportation offered. Measures such as annual seats and departures per day are determined by the airlines, often out of a local airport’s control. The number of available airline seats and departures at non-hub airports is driven by local demand and competing airports in the same region. In contrast, airline route planning is an important factor in the number of available airline seats and departures at hub airports.
How do we compare?
The Tucson airport ranked near the bottom of the non-hub airports in 2022, with 3.9 seats per capita available annually. The Tucson airport is comparable to the Colorado Springs airport, which offered slightly fewer annual seats per capita at 3.7. The relatively new Phoenix-Mesa airport had only 0.5 seats per capita available annually in 2022, while San Diego had the most seats of the non-hub airports at 8.3. The non-hub airports include Albuquerque, Colorado Springs, El Paso, Phoenix-Mesa (AZA), San Antonio, San Diego, and Tucson.
In 2022, the Tucson airport ranked fifth out of seven non-hub airports, with an average of 46 departures per day. That was a significant decline from its 2007 average of 78. The Tucson airport, along with most other airports across the country, posted substantial declines in air travel in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. San Diego far exceeded the other non-hub airports in 2022 with an average of 248 departures per day, while Phoenix-Mesa (AZA) averaged only 18 departures per day.
What are the key trends?
The Tucson airport posted a slight increase in seats per capita between 2000 and 2005, followed by a sharp decline during the Great Recession. Following the downturn, the Tucson airport substantially increased the number of seats available per capita between 2009 and 2010 by nearly 19 percentage points. The significant decline in seats per capita in 2020 was due to the coronavirus pandemic. Air travel has since rebounded nationwide. The number of seats per capita available at the Tucson airport increased by 26.3% in 2021 and 16.8% in 2022. That was the fastest growth in over twenty years. The Phoenix area airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor, followed a similar growth pattern as the Tucson airport, while Phoenix-Mesa, a new airport, posted wide fluctuations in seats per capita.
How is it measured?
Annual seats per capita represent the total number of inbound and outbound seats available per capita each year. Departures per day are the daily number of flights taking off from an airport. The Volaire Aviation consulting group provided the data. Per capita measures are calculated using the population of the metropolitan area where the airport resides.