AUSTIN (KXAN) — Formula One traffic is here, and not just on the ground, but in the air, too.
The Federal Aviation Administration is already temporarily delaying some flights to manage airplane flow at Austin Bergstrom International Airport.
The flow control currently applies to flights coming into Austin from Dallas Fort-Worth, to make sure they have enough time to land, the FAA said.
They said it’s called a ground delay program, and the idea is by temporarily holding flights from taking off, the air and runway space here in Austin doesn’t get jammed up and cause even longer delays for other flights.
F1 weekend brings in a record-breaking number of travelers to Austin from across the country and around the world.
“I’ve always watched Formula One Since I’ve been the kid,” said Joshua Woodfox, flying in from North Carolina with his wife, Erika.
It’s their anniversary trip, and their first one without their newborn.
“She’s gotten into it when we first started dating and she decided to make it a present for me last year,” Joshua said.
“I’m gonna focus on certain physical motions that involve drinks to mouth,” laughed Brad Hoffman, coming in for the race from Maryland.
Austin Bergstrom International Airport hit a passenger record Monday following weekend two of the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Before that, the record was set the Monday after last year’s F1 race.
Sam Haynes, an airport spokesperson, expects Monday after this year’s F1 race to top it all.
“We’re thinking that we could see anywhere upwards of 36,000 departing passengers next Monday,” Haynes said.
Sharing the airport’s air and runway is Million Air—a yacht club of sorts for private jets.
Spokesperson Ryan Korsgard said dozens of clients have already landed, with more expected throughout the weekend.
“Over the course of this weekend, we expect hundreds of aircraft to arrive at our facility, both domestically and internationally given the broad appeal of Formula One racing,” he wrote in a press release.
He said last year there were around 300 private flights.
Their facility has two football fields’ worth of space, and they’ve rented overflow space at the airport.
“Given the race track expects to surpass its previous records, we expect to do the same,” Korsgard said.
The group flew in extra staff from out of state, including New York, to help keep up, and have rented RVs and AirBnBs to house them for the weekend.
He said clients often try to leave at the same time, typically Sunday or Monday.
Air traffic is managed by the FAA, which told KXAN that the average delay for all flights, commercial and general aviation, at the airport during last year’s Formula One race was about 30 minutes.
This year, the agency has put in place new measures to prevent that.
The FAA said it would initiate different traffic management programs to increase efficiency at the airport, including ground delays.
They also said they planned their air routes more strategically this year to better manage high traffic.
The agency said the airport also has better equipment this year to help manage the flow of planes.
Finally, the FAA said it also requires reservations for private aircraft arrivals and departures this year.
“It’s called a PPR—prior permission required,” Korsgard explained. “There is a notice of this change which each pilot will read before they depart. The FAA and air traffic control are requiring a preapproved ‘slot’ or departure time for each aircraft Sunday after the race. Everyone is trying to reduce the delays everyone saw last year.”
Korsgard said, for now, reservations are only required for Sunday, but that could be extended into Monday.
Million Air also has an executive helicopter to take customers from their terminal directly to the Circuit of the Americas. Korsgard said they have to schedule those flights with the FAA, too.
The FAA said it began planning with stakeholders in June for the anticipated increase in air traffic at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport for this year’s Formula One race.