Albany International Airport boasts the title of being the first municipal airfield in the United States. Built in the early 1900’s, the first airfield was located on a polo field several miles north of Albany, New York. Shortly after, Albany’s airport was transferred to Westerlo Island, several miles north of the city. The new airport was named in honor of Quentin Roosevelt, the son of president Theodore Roosevelt who was also a pilot. In 1927, 10,000 spectators at Quentin Roosevelt Field welcomed the famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, who made a 22,000-mile North American tour that year.
In the late 1920’s, the mayor of Albany pushed the effort to build a new municipal airport on Shaker Road, the site of the modern Albany International Airport. In the summer of 1928, Albany Municipal Airport began operating air mail and commercial passenger flights within New Jersey, New York, and Canada. Upon opening, the airport had over 240 acres and three runways each measuring more than 2,000 feet long. During the late 1930’s, Albany Municipal Airport was temporary shut down by the federal government because of deteriorating conditions. A WPA renovation during World War II helped Albany opened the municipal airport once again. In 1950, Albany’s airport had nearly 800 acres and a runway that was longer than 5,000 feet. In the 1950’s, the federal government once again threatened to close the airport because of an infrastructure that could not yet accommodate the arrival of modern jets.
In the early 1960’s, the city of Albany transferred control of the airport to Albany County. Under the county’s ownership, the airport’s terminal building was expanded at a cost of more than 1 million dollars. The creation of the Albany County Airport Authority in 1993 has lead to the largest expansion effort in the airport’s history. In the late 1990’s, the current terminal building opened as part of a long term renovation project that was estimated to cost over 180 million dollars.
Albany Airport Growth
Today, Albany International Airport occupies more than 1,200 acres on the outskirts of Albany in the small town of Colonie. Covering more than 230,000 square feet on three levels, the main terminal building has an architecture inspired by local Anglo Dutch history. The brick facade, round windows, and use of Cherry and Maple wood are examples of a style used by the early settlers in the Albany region. The terminal building originally was designed to accommodate about 1.5 million passengers per year. However, Albany International Airport handles more than 2 million annual visitors, so further expansion will be necessary as mandated by the original long-term plan made by the Albany County Airport Authority.
An average of 90 daily commercial flights operate at the airport. More than 1,000 operations are controlled from the Air Traffic Control Tower at the airport. The main runway at the airport (1/19) is 8,500 long and the secondary runway (10/28) measures 7,200 feet in length. Both runways are made from Asphalt.
Albany International Airport has parking space for more than 5,000 cars. So many parking lots are needed because of the airport’s location near the intersection of Interstate 90 and Interstate 87. In 1999, the parking garage officially opened to accommodate over 1,600 vehicles. Since then, the garage has been expanded to accommodate up to 2,400 vehicles. In 2000, an economy lot featuring 800 spaces opened at Albany’s main airport. The economy lot is accessible via free shuttle services. The other parking options are at the Short Term and Long Term lots, which are located within walking distance from the terminal building.
Airlines Serving Albany Airport
Being a major gateway into upstate New York, Albany International Airport is only served by large North American airline companies. Having the world’s largest fleet, Delta Air Lines connects the city of Albany with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Operated by Pinnacle Airlines, the Delta Connection service provides direct flights to major Midwest destinations Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport and Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. The Delta Connection by SkyWest Airlines also offers a direct route into Detroit, Michigan. Delta Airlines uses Gates B5 and B7 in the Level 2 area of the terminal complex at Albany International Airport.
Southwest Airlines, which is the biggest low cost carrier in the United States, connects Albany International Airport with Baltimore, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Orlando, and Tampa. Such a schedule makes this low cost airline a reliable provider into Florida’s popular vacation destinations. Passengers can board the Southwest Airlines fleet from the gates in Concourse C on Level 2 of the terminal building.
United Airlines operates non-stop flights to Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Operated by several regional airlines, United Express services are also available to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, and Washington Dulles International Airport. United Airlines jets wait for passengers near the A Gates on the second level of the terminal building.
Charlotte/Douglas International Airport is directly linked to Albany International Airport via US Airways service. Philadelphia and Washington D.C. are accessible via US Airways Express services operated by companies such as Air Wisconsin, Piedmont Airlines, and Republic Airlines. The US Airways fleet picks up passengers in the gates of Concourse B.
Air Canada links Albany International Airport with Toronto Pearson International Airport. Canada’s flag carrier airline is the only non-U.S.A. company to serve Albany. Passengers can board the Air Canada fleet from Concourse C of the terminal complex.
Offering direct flights to Boston’s Logan International Airport, Cape Air connects Albany to New England’s largest city. This regional airline also provides flights to Massena International Airport and Ogdensburg International Airport, which are located in quaint communities in upstate New York. The Cape Air planes wait for passengers in the A Concourse at Albany International Airport.
Passengers at Albany International Airport can be rest assured that they receive world-class service since Air Canada, United Airlines, and US Airways are members of the Star Alliance, an important global network of airline cooperation in today’s busy world of travel.