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Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport

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Title: Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport  
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Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport

Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport
Wold–Chamberlain Airport
Airport type Public
Owner/Operator Metropolitan Airports Commission
Serves Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota (Twin Cities)
Location Hennepin County, Minnesota, USA
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 841 ft / 256 m
Coordinates 44°52′55″N 093°13′18″W / 44.88194°N 93.22167°W / 44.88194; -93.22167Coordinates: 44°52′55″N 093°13′18″W / 44.88194°N 93.22167°W / 44.88194; -93.22167

FAA airport diagram
Location within Minnesota
Direction Length Surface
ft m
4/22 11,006 3,355 Concrete
12R/30L 10,000 3,048 Asphalt/Concrete
12L/30R 8,200 2,499 Concrete
17/35 8,000 2,438 Concrete
Statistics (2012)
Passengers 33,170,960
Traffic Movements 425,332
Source: Passenger & traffic statistics from MSP airport.;[1] Runways from FAA[2]

Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport (IATA: MSPICAO: KMSPFAA LID: MSP) is a joint civil-military public use international airport. Located in a portion of Hennepin County, Minnesota outside of any city or school district,[3] within ten miles (16 km) of both downtown Minneapolis and downtown Saint Paul, it is the largest and busiest airport in the six-state upper Midwest region of Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.


In terms of passengers, Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport is the 17th busiest airport in the United States (2012) and 41st busiest airport in the world in 2012. A joint civil-military airport, MSP is also home to the Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport Joint Air Reserve Station, supporting both Air Force Reserve Command and Air National Guard flight operations. Airlines out of Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport serve 135 nonstop markets from MSP, including 120 domestic and 15 international markets. Compared to other large metropolitan areas in the United States, only Atlanta and Denver serve more non-stop markets per capita.[4]

The airport, including both passenger terminal buildings, is mostly located in the Census-designated place of Fort Snelling in an unincorporated part of Hennepin County.[5] Small sections of the airport are within the city limits of Minneapolis. The airport is across the Mississippi River from St. Paul. The terminal exits of the airport are minutes away from Mall of America; careful flight pattern planning ensures that aircraft never fly over the mall at low altitude.

It is the third-largest hub airport for Delta Air Lines and Delta Connection partners Compass Airlines and Pinnacle Airlines (with Compass having headquarters nearby). It also serves as the home airport for Sun Country Airlines. Champion Air was based at the Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport until the airline ceased operations in May 2008. Northwest Airlines was based near the airport until its 2010 merger with Delta Air Lines and Delta Connection partner Mesaba Airlines was also headquartered nearby until December 2011 as it completed its merger with Pinnacle Airlines. Delta Air Lines accounts for more than 80% of the airport's passenger traffic. The airport is operated by the Metropolitan Airports Commission, which also handles operation of six smaller airports in the region.

Pinnacle Airlines relocated its headquarters from Memphis International Airport to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in May 2013.[6][7]

The airport's police department is recognized as having one of the best trained K-9 units in the United States. At a national competition in 2013, two MSP Airport Police dogs, "Ollie" and "Lana", took first and second place in explosives detection.[8]


The airport came into being when several local groups came together to take control of the former bankrupt Twin City Speedway race track, giving the airport its original name, Speedway Field. Soon after, in 1921, the airport was renamed "Wold–Chamberlain Field" for the World War I pilots Ernest Groves Wold and Cyrus Foss Chamberlain. Howard Hughes briefly stopped at Wold–Chamberlain Field on his round the world flight in 1938. In 1944 the site was renamed to "Minneapolis–St. Paul Metropolitan Airport/Wold-Chamberlain Field", with "International" replacing "Metropolitan" four years later. Today it is rare to see the Wold–Chamberlain portion of the name used anywhere.

Airport diagram for October 1959

MSP was the main base for Northwest Airlines starting in 1926 and became the main base of regional carrier North Central Airlines in 1952. North Central merged with Southern Airways to form Republic Airlines in 1979; Republic then merged with Northwest in 1986. The combined carrier came to control 79% of traffic at the airport, and merged into Delta Air Lines in 2010.

Due in part to the impact of aircraft noise on south Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs, Northwest Airlines and others had proposed moving out of MSP and building a new airport on the fringes of the Twin Cities metro area to handle more large jets and more international traffic. Minneapolis and other neighboring cities were concerned that such a move would have a negative economic impact, so an arrangement was made where the Metropolitan Airports Commission would outfit many homes in the vicinity of the airport with sound insulation and air conditioning so that indoor noise could be reduced. A citizen group named ROAR (Residents Opposed to Airport Racket) was created in 1998 and helped push the MAC to make these concessions. Later, in 2004, the MAC voted to reduce funding for the soundproofing projects, stating in part that the economic climate had turned in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak, who had been a founding member of ROAR, promised that the city would challenge the funding changes.

Ground was broken for the current Charles Lindbergh terminal building on October 26, 1958.[9] The $8.5 million, 600,000 square foot (56,000 m2) terminal with 24 gates on two concourses was designed by Cerny Associates and completed on January 13, 1962 and operations began on January 21, 1962.[9][10] Piers A and D (formerly the Green and Gold Concourses, now Concourse C and Concourse G respectively) were built as an expansion of the terminal designed by Cerny Associates in 1970.[10] This project also involved rebuilding the existing concourses into bi-level structures equipped with holding rooms and jet bridges.[10] It handles all international flights and airlines such as Delta, United, and others. The Gold Concourse was expanded in 1986 and included the airport's first moving walkway.[9]

The 1970 disaster film Airport was partially filmed at MSP, filling in for a fictional Lincoln airport. It was followed by several sequels and was a prototype for many disaster films that followed. The airport used colors as the method for naming different concourses for many years, a convention that was duplicated in the movie.

Starting in 2000, MSP switched to lettered concourses, which has become standard practice at airports around the world. The color names still survive as the names for the Lindbergh Terminal parking ramp wings.

The Hubert H. Humphrey Terminal was built in 2001. It is used mostly for charter airlines and low cost carriers, including Sun Country, AirTran, and Southwest.

Concourses A and B opened on June 1, 2002 as part of a $250 million terminal expansion designed by Minneapolis-based Architectural Alliance.[11] The final component of the project included a $17.5 million extension of Concourse C consisting of six additional gates, which opened on October 31, 2002.[12]

Icelandair started service to Minneapolis-St. Paul from Reykjavik in 1998. Northwest operated flights from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Hong Kong and Osaka in 1998 using 747-400 aircraft, but were dropped in the same year. Northwest also operated Minneapolis-St. Paul to Oslo and Frankfurt service using DC-10 aircraft, but they too were dropped. From the early 1990s and to 2000s (decade), KLM operated 747 and MD-11 service from Amsterdam to Minneapolis-St. Paul. In part because of the Delta/KLM joint venture, KLM has not served Minneapolis-St. Paul with its own aircraft since 2003.

By May 2012 Great Lakes Airlines was adding services to small communities that had been ended by the legacy carriers earlier in the airport's history.[13]

Former Terminal and Color Concourse Names Current Terminal, Letter Concourse and Gate Names
Lindbergh Terminal Terminal 1, Concourse A, Gates A1–A14
Terminal 1, Concourse B, Gates B1–B16
Terminal 1, Concourse C, Gates C12–C27
Lindbergh Terminal, Green Concourse Terminal 1, Concourse C, Gates C1–C11
Terminal 1, Concourse D, Gates D1–D6
Lindbergh Terminal, Blue Concourse Terminal 1, Concourse E, Gates E1–E16
Lindbergh Terminal, Red Concourse Terminal 1, Concourse F, Gates F1–F16
Lindbergh Terminal, Gold Concourse Terminal 1, Concourse G, Gates G1–G22
Humphrey Terminal Terminal 2, Concourse H, Gates H1–H10


Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport has two terminals, both of which were named for famous Minnesotans: the Lindbergh Terminal 1 (named after the aviator Charles Lindbergh) and the smaller Humphrey Terminal 2 (named for former US Vice President Hubert Humphrey). Lindbergh Terminal 1 officially has seven concourses, lettered A–G, with the Humphrey Terminal 2 labeled as Concourse H. The old Humphrey Terminal 2, built in 1986, was rebuilt in 2001 to expand capacity and give passengers a more seamless experience.[9]

Like many other airports, MSP interconnects with several other forms of transportation. Several large parking ramps are available for cars. Most other connections are made at the Hub Building and adjacent Transit Center, which has city and shuttle bus, taxi, light-rail, and rental car service. Two trams (people movers) are at the airport. One carries passengers from the main section of Lindbergh Terminal 1 to the Hub Building, and another runs along Concourse C in that terminal.

The airport is near Fort Snelling, the site of one of the earliest United States government settlements in the area. Both the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers flow nearby. Minnesota State Highway 5 provides the closest entrance to the Lindbergh Terminal 1, just a short distance from Interstate 494. The Humphrey Terminal 2 is accessed via the 34th Avenue exit from I-494, which runs past Fort Snelling National Cemetery. Delta Air Lines has hangars arranged along I-494 and 34th Avenue, so it's possible to see airliners undergoing maintenance while driving past.

The METRO light rail Blue Line[14] has stops at both the Hub Building Terminal 1 (Lindbergh Station) and Terminal 2 Humphrey Terminal (Humphrey Station). It connects the airport with downtown Minneapolis as well as with the Mall of America in nearby Bloomington, and operates as a shuttle service between the two airport terminals. Travelers can use the rail line to go between the two sites at all times; it is the only part of the line that operates continuously through the night (the rest shuts down for about four hours early in the morning).[15] Passengers going between the two terminals may ride free of charge, but those riding beyond the airport grounds must pay a standard fare.[15] Two parallel tunnels for the line run roughly 70 feet (20 meters) below the airport, and at 1.7 miles (2.7 km) in length are the longest tunnels on the route. The Lindbergh Terminal 1 station is the only one underground on the line, as the rails return to the surface near Humphrey Terminal 2. Due to current concerns about terrorism, a great deal of effort went into ensuring that the tunnels are highly blast-resistant. The underground portion was the costliest section of the entire rail project.[16]

The airport has three airline lounges, all located in the Lindbergh Terminal 1: two Delta Air Lines Sky Clubs (one in the Airport Mall and another in Concourse C) and one United Airlines United Club in Concourse E.[17]

MSP 2020 Vision

In 2004, Northwest Airlines, which is now Delta Air Lines, proposed expanding the Lindbergh Terminal 1 to accommodate growing flight operations in a plan known as the MSP 2020 Vision. The proposed expansion included moving all airlines other than Northwest and its SkyTeam alliance partners to the Humphrey Terminal 2. This caused increased concern about Northwest Airlines' control of the Minneapolis–St. Paul commercial air service market with some claiming that Northwest was using its market position to inflate airfares. While AirTran Airways voiced opposition to the plan, American Airlines and United Airlines remained neutral on the move since both had exclusive terminals at their own main hubs. Despite the merger between Northwest and Delta Air Lines, Delta still plans to carry out the expansions. In May 2005, the MAC approved the plan with the following conditions:

  • The Humphrey Terminal 2 will be expanded to 22 gates, over double its current size
  • Another parking ramp will be constructed at the Humphrey Terminal 2
  • Delta and other SkyTeam airlines will have exclusive rights to the entire Lindbergh Terminal 1
  • Non-SkyTeam airlines will use the Humphrey Terminal 2
  • Concourses C and E will be converted into regional jet terminals
  • A new Concourse H will be built on the site of the former NWA Building B

In September 2012, MAC released a draft of the MSP 2020 Vision, expanding both the terminals to meet growing flights operations. The estimated $1.5 billion plan will include:

  • Expanding and constructing a new international facility at concourse G.
  • Remodel and reconfigure Lindbergh Terminal 1's lobby.
  • Reconfigure Lindbergh Terminal 1's baggage claim areas.
  • Building 2 new parking ramps at both terminals
  • Expand Humphrey Terminal 2 to as many as 27 gates.
  • Insulate several hundreds more homes prone to airport traffic noise.

Airlines and destinations

Concourses A-G are located at the Lindbergh Terminal 1, while Concourse H is at the Humphrey Terminal 2.

Traffic and statistics

Airlines at MSP (2012)
Rank Airline Passengers Aircraft Movements
1 Delta Air Lines 24,513,941 294,860
2 Southwest Airlines 1,244,385 12,070
3 Sun Country Airlines 1,231,655 12,093
4 US Airways 1,198,002 9,557
5 United Airlines 1,021,744 14,550
6 American Airlines 1,019,085 12,598
7 AirTran Airlines 543,063 5,570
8 Frontier Airlines 375,524 2,918
9 Continental Airlines 354,862 7,627
10 Spirit Airlines 217,192 1,801
11 Alaska Airlines 170,964 1,272
12 Air Canada 60,960 2,022
13 Great Lakes Airlines 48,444 10,246
14 Icelandair 42,115 272
Traffic by calendar year
Passengers Aircraft Movements Freight
2001 33,733,725 501,522 N/A N/A
2002 32,629,690 507,669 N/A N/A
2003 33,201,860 512,588 N/A N/A
2004 36,713,173 541,093 N/A N/A
2005 37,663,664 532,239 N/A N/A
2006 35,612,133 475,668 N/A N/A
2007 35,157,322 452,972 N/A N/A
2008 34,056,443 450,044 496,595,947 18,931,024
2009 32,378,599 432,395 402,981,750 16,298,411
2010 32,839,441 437,075 448,769,723 19,840,160
2011 33,118,499 436,506 434,468,322 25,496,531
2012 33,170,960 425,332 404,563,347 33,459,970
Busiest International Routes from MSP (July 2012 - June 2013)[18]
Rank Airport Passengers Carriers
1 Netherlands Amsterdam, Netherlands 435,576 Delta
2 Canada Toronto (Pearson), Canada 195,472 Air Canada, Delta
3 Japan Tokyo (Narita), Japan 176,173 Delta
4 France Paris (Charles de Gaulle), France 162,566 Air France, Delta
5 Canada Winnipeg, Canada 156,402 Delta
6 Mexico Cancún, Mexico 155,029 Delta, Sun Country
7 Canada Vancouver, Canada 150,087 Delta
8 United Kingdom London (Heathrow), United Kingdom 145,247 Delta
9 Canada Calgary, Canada 122,817 Delta
10 Canada Edmonton, Canada 102,732 Delta
Busiest Domestic Routes from MSP (August 2012 – July 2013)[19]
Rank Airport Passengers Carriers
1 Chicago (O'Hare), Illinois 819,000 American, Delta, Spirit, United
2 Atlanta, Georgia 752,000 AirTran, Delta
3 Denver, Colorado 742,000 Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United
4 Phoenix, Arizona 607,000 Delta, Southwest, Sun Country, US Airways
5 Seattle, Washington 501,000 Alaska, Delta, Sun Country
6 Las Vegas, Nevada 448,000 Delta, Spirit, Sun Country
7 Los Angeles, California 432,000 Delta, Sun Country
8 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 400,000 American, Delta, Spirit, Sun Country
9 Chicago (Midway), Illinois 394,000 Delta, Southwest, Sun Country
10 Detroit, Michigan 394,000 Delta

Cargo operations

Military facilities

The Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport Joint Air Reserve Station at MSP is home to the 934th Airlift Wing (934 AW), an Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) unit, and the 133d Airlift Wing (133 AW) of the Minnesota Air National Guard. Both units fly the C-130 Hercules and are operationally-gained by the Air Mobility Command (AMC). The 934th consists of over 1,300 military personnel, of which approximately 250 are full-time Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) and Air Reserve Technician (ART) personnel. The 133rd is similarly manned, making for a total military presence of over 2,600 full-time and part-time personnel.

The 934 AW serves as the "host" wing for the installation, which also includes lodging/billeting, officers club, Base Exchange (BX) and other morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) facilities for active, reserve/national guard and retired military personnel and their families.

Other buildings

Delta Air Lines Building C is located on the property of Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport and in Fort Snelling.[20][21][22][23] Delta uses it for northern and regional operations.[24] The building is located along 34th Avenue, which is the main access point to the airport terminals from Interstate 494, and across from the Fort Snelling National Cemetery. Building C is in a public access area of the airport, so visitors are not required to undergo security checks to access it.[25]

In 2009, as Northwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines merged, Delta removed all employees from Building A, the previous headquarters of Northwest in Eagan, and all employees who remained in Minneapolis were moved to Building C, which was renovated, and Building J.[26] Facilities within the building include the Compass Airlines corporate headquarters, which moved there on December 16, 2009.[27] the Regional Elite Airline Services headquarters,[28] and Delta SkyBonus offices.[29]

Prior to its disestablishment, Republic Airlines (1979–1986) had its headquarters in Building C.[24][30]


Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport has four runways:[2]

  • Runway 4/22: 11,006 × 150 ft. (3,354 × 46 m), Surface: Concrete
  • Runway 12R/30L: 10,000 × 200 ft. (3,048 × 61 m), Surface: Asphalt, Concrete
  • Runway 12L/30R: 8,200 × 150 ft. (2,499 × 46 m), Surface: Concrete
  • Runway 17/35: 8,000 × 150 ft. (2,438 × 46 m), Surface: Concrete

Runway 17/35 opened in October 2005. Prior to that time, a number of buildings (including several hangars and the City of Richfield's Rich Acres Golf Course) were demolished to make way for the runway protection zone of the new runway. Similarly, plans for expansion at Mall of America have been delayed by its construction. Aircraft approaching Runway 35 fly slightly east of the Mall of America, overfly Interstate 494, and land seconds later. Due to noise concerns from south Minneapolis, between 13 August 2007 and 18 October 2007, Runway 17/35 was used regularly during construction on Runway 12R/30L.



External links

  • Minnesota Airport Directory: Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (Wold–Chamberlain Field) PDF (245 KB)
  • MAC Noise Homepage (official—interactive maps of flights and noise data)
  • Live Air Traffic Control streams including MSP
  • PDF), effective July 24, 2014
  • Resources for this airport:
    • AirNav airport information for KMSP
    • ASN accident history for MSP
    • FlightAware live flight tracker
    • NOAA/NWS latest weather observations
    • SkyVector aeronautical chart for KMSP
    • FAA current MSP delay information
    • OpenNav airspace and charts for KMSP
  • PDF)

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