Fresno’s airport (finally) starts its climb into rarified air

Long overlooked, Fresno-Yosemite International is breaking passenger records, boasting stable financials, and winning key funding for upgrades and expansion.

With consumer and business travel firmly on the rebound following the coronavirus pandemic, the Valley’s largest airport – Fresno-Yosemite International – is having a bit of a moment.

The Fresno hub, which awaits a in-the-works terminal expansion, has eyed an upward swing just before the onset of the pandemic, when it secured routes to Denver and Las Vegas with Southwest Airlines.


Driving the news: In December, Rep. Jim Costa (D–Fresno) revealed that the airport will receive $4.4 million in federal funds through last year’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. 

  • Along with the funds, the airport’s $41.8 million in outstanding revenue bonds received a BBB+ rating from financial and insurance company Fitch Ratings. That rating is considered a stable outlook from Fitch Ratings and reflects the ongoing population growth with the fact that it is the only airport in the region. 
  • Fresno Yosemite International Airport ranked as the third-highest mid-sized airport in the nation for on-time performance. A report from OVG Aviation found that the airport had over 80 percent of all arrivals and departures be one time, ranking behind only Salt Lake City International Airport and Boise Airport in their class. 
  • The airport also ranked as one of the best performing domestic air travel markets for Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and American Airlines with each airline filling at least 90 percent of seats on flights. Fresno’s worst performing airline by that metric was Allegiant Air – which only flies to Las Vegas – coming in around 70 percent. 

By the numbers: The airport served over 2.1 million passengers in 2022, a 12 percent increase over 2021 and the highest amount in airport history. The previous high came before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019 with 1.96 million passengers. 

  • Passenger traffic increased at a rate of 122 percent last year, compared to the nationwide average of 99 percent. The rate of growth ranked 13th in the nation. 
  • The airport’s domestic airline load factor was 83 percent, the highest since 2015 and the second highest since 1990. 
  • Passengers traveling to Mexico increased by about 20 percent over the year before. 
  • Additionally, cargo transportation came in at 30 million pounds, 6.5 percent higher than 2019’s high of 29 million pounds. 

What they’re saying: “Fresno Yosemite International Airport continues to be a top performing airport in recovery and passenger growth spurred by our partner airlines meeting the air service demand for Central Valley travelers,” said Director of Aviation Henry Thompson. “With more travelers using FAT and choosing their hometown airport, Fresno is able to present a strong case to airline planners about expanded air service opportunities in our market.”

Related Posts