The Brookings Institute has released data on the flow of international passengers in and out of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas. The web-based data, drawn from a new report primarily comparing 2003 with 2011, highlights the scale of passenger traffic flows and points to the international markets where these ties are particularly strong. The report, “Global Gateways: International Aviation in Metropolitan America,” released in October 2012, found that:
- International air travel in and out of the United States more than doubled between 1990 and 2011. The growth in international passengers during the 21-year period was more than double the growth in domestic passengers and real GDP
- Since 2003, international air travel grew between the United States and every global region, with the strongest growth coming from emerging markets.
- Just 17 metropolitan gateways captured 73 percent of all international passengers starting or ending their trip in the United States as well as 97 percent of all international transfer passengers.
- As metropolitan economies expand their global reach through trade and investment, international aviation plays a pivotal role in the movement of people across national borders.
The national growth was not uniformly reflected in Connecticut. Of all passengers flying to or from an international destination in Hartford, 17.9% flew direct. The remainder required connecting flights. The number of passengers flying internationally thru Hartford dropped from 347,311 in 2003 to 278,997 in 2011, a downward change of nearly 20 percent. In 2003, Hartford was 40th of 90 airport locations; by 2011 that had dropped to 47th of 90. The change was a 19.7 percent drop.
By way of comparison, Providence ranked 49th in 2003 in international travelers and 69th in 2011, reflecting a drop in passengers from 187,819 to 126,423, a drop of 32.7 percent.
The numbers for New Haven were considerably smaller, but tell an interesting story nonetheless. The number of international travelers touching New Haven jumped by 133.5 percent between 2003 and 2011, from 1,645 passengers to 3,841 passengers. That’s the largest percentage increase of any of the 90 locations in the nation. In terms of the number of passengers, however, New Haven nudged upward from dead last (90th out of 90) to 89th.
The Brookings data “goes beyond describing where passengers are going and tells us how they get there.” Using data on transfer points and a map that visualizes each leg of each international route, it paints a portrait of how the global aviation infrastructure rises to meet the demand of international passengers.
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