MIAMI — Aviation statistic and analysis firm OAG has released its data on the fastest-growing airports throughout North America.

The results, based off of the number of available seats out of each airport in May 2017 compared to April 2018, determined the percent growth over this period for major (20+ million seats) and mid-sized (3-20 million seats) separately.

READ MORE: See the OAG full report

The report concluded that Fort Lauderdale – Hollywood International Airport (FLL) is the fastest-growing major airport with an 11% growth in capacity over the last year, followed by Newark (EWR) and Orlando (MCO).

The mid-size category was dominated by Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), who demonstrated 18% growth, followed by Austin (AUS) and San Jose (SJC).

Ft. Lauderdale Wins

Fort Lauderdale’s rapid growth has been fueled by the prevalence of low-cost carriers (LCCs) throughout ITS market, with prominent LCCs Southwest, Spirit, and JetBlue accounting for 62% of all passenger traffic out of FLL.

The general strength of LCCs in recent years helped drive this expansion, as did a booming Floridian tourism industry.

The busiest route to/from FLL is to Atlanta (ATL), which according to the report, was served 50 times per day in April 2017.


Rival, neighboring airport, Miami International (MIA), ranked as the 18th fastest growing airport in the US.

Even though MIA has registered constant growth, year after year, it might be reaching its capacity with more than 105 airlines operating flights from all around the world.

Likewise, FLL might be reaching its peak in capacity. “Capacity constraints at FLL suggest growth like this may not continue,” states the report.

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Further interest in South Florida as a business location, which has led to increased routes to popular hubs such as Atlanta (ATL), has been another strong point of this growth.

Yet, this expansion may not be a long-term feature: OAG’s report notes “capacity constraints” as a possible limitation which “suggest[s] growth may not continue.”

Newark Three Points Behind

Newark’s 8% growth, while less than that of FLL, is still notable.

While expansion from smaller EWR operators such as Spirit and Alaska have been relatively significant benefactors to EWR, as have the introduction and growth of international routes (mainly the addition of a direct flight from EWR to Dubai (DXB) by Emirates), the vast majority of EWR’s expansion is a direct result of United’s (who accounts for 65% of passenger traffic) increase of capacity out of Newark.

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The report claims that “United experienced the strongest growth on routes to Atlanta, Raleigh-Durham, San Jose and Sacramento, and also opened a new route to Buenos Aires.”

Orlando Strong

Orlando’s 7% expansion was also driven by a healthy tourism industry, which has promoted the strengthening of current domestic routes as well as the addition and reinforcement of numerous international destinations, such as those throughout Brazil and Europe.

United States Geological Survey (USGS)

According to the report, Norwegian Air recently opened its Gatwick service, bringing 12,240 new seats to the market.

The report also states that air traffic growth in the Orlando area “was fueled by the strong local economy, with Orlando seventh among 381 U.S. metropolitan areas for economic growth.”

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The rest of the list

Regarding mid-sized airports, Cincinnati underwent rapid expansion throughout the last year.

The introduction of low-cost stronghold Southwest to the CVG market is responsible for a significant portion of this growth and was further complemented by major growth by Frontier Airlines – a combination of factors that caused LCC capacity at CVG to increase by 62%.

Austin and San Jose (with 16% and 15% growth, respectively) both experienced growth correlating from a robust technological industry (a significant sector of both cities’ economies), coupled with strong presences by Southwest.

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Behind Orlando, the top-20 list is filled by Boston, followed by San Francisco, Toronto, Chicago (ORD), Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver, Houston, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Charlotte, Detroit, Las Vegas, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York (JFK), Miami, Atlanta, and Phoenix.

Overall, LCC strength drove most airport expansion in 2017, with growing interest in cheap travel in recent years continuing.

This, in addition to the moderately strong tourism industry, resulted in a healthy year for many vacation and technological destinations and was a driving factor throughout the year.