I was torn between posting my latest here or on my personal site, American Dirt. While most Indy-themed articles end up finding their way here, this one scrutinized airports in a way that I usually only apply to my personal site. So I’ll paraphrase it here, but the full post is there on Dirt.
It’s not necessarily fair to judge Indianapolis International Airport’s Colonel H. Weir Cook Terminal on its level of activity at 9pm on a Friday. But at a time in the evening when larger airports are still humming, about 80% of the retail options are closed at IND. Perhaps more important than the fact that the airport is nearly free of occupants at the time is this indicator below: some spaces that exist to accommodate departing passengers sit completely unused. There never are ANY customers to justify these sections of the airport remaining in operation.
All we get is an ugly, impersonal sign for “Charter Services” and some promotional filler from Visit Indy. But the absence of self-check-in computer portals indicates that this entire station is rarely used. As recently as a year ago, Delta claimed this space at check-in station 1, the first one a visitor reaches when arriving by car. Now it is essentially empty. Delta has relocated, but no doubt it took space that another airport had previously vacated. And, with the merger of US Airways and American pending, what is the likelihood that both airlines will continue to claim both the same number check-in kiosks or gates that they currently use?
IND is hardly alone in this consideration. In fact, it may be better off than many. As I noted a few months ago on American Dirt, the much larger Cleveland-Hopkins International (CLE) has practically vacated 75% of an entire concourse. Other frequent travelers have reported to me the emptiness at airports in Milwaukee, St. Louis and (perhaps the most empty of all) Cincinnati. I won’t begrudge the top-tier airports such as LAX, ATL, or JFK their significant capital improvements–after all, airport finance does not depend on taxpayer dollars for the most part–but, given the trends in airline mergers and sub-par passenger traffic, what justification would any metro’s airport authority have in even considering expansion at this point?
My article on American Dirt features both more photos manifesting IND’s unused expanses, along with some supporting numbers. Comments are always welcome.