Louisville airport expands capacity, seeks innovation

By Nicole Childress, Building Kentucky

Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF) recently reached its highest capacity since the COVID-19 pandemic began and announced a research partnership with the University of Louisville.

New And Returning Destinations

Southwest Airlines, American Airlines and Allegiant added routes in March.

Southwest Airlines introduced a new, nonstop flight to Fort Myers, Florida March 11. The flight will transport up to 143 passengers daily to the beach.

American Airlines’ daily flight to Washington, D.C. and Allegiant’s seasonal flights to Destin, Florida and Savannah, Georgia returned this month.

SDF now has a record 35 nonstop flights.

The additions of these flights resulted in 45% growth in capacity compared to February and 63% compared to last year. Growth is expected to continue with new and returning services from Spirit and Allegiant in May.

U Of L Innovation Lab

SDF is seeking to improve travelers’ experiences and airport operations through an innovation lab partnership with the University of Louisville. U of L students and faculty will team up with airport staff to identify opportunities and solutions from facilities to the airfield.

“U of L is a world-class research university, and we are excited to establish this partnership with such a prominent institution in our community,” said executive director of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority Dan Mann. “We strive every day to be the best airport in the country. This collaboration is another element in making that a reality.”

Projects could cover a wide array of disciplines from engineering to business. Examples might include developing runway surfaces or improving terminal efficiency using technology. The exact research projects will be determined this summer.

The partnership is the first of its kind for SDF. While SDF will gain insights into how it can improve, U of L students will also gain hands-on learning opportunities.

“This work has significant potential to energize our regional economy,
said U of L’s associate vice president for Research Development and Partnerships Will Metcalf. “From driving workforce development to generating new technologies, the possibilities are endless.”

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