Largest US City Without a Commercial Airport?

Excluding cities that are suburbs of other cities, what is the largest U.S. city without an airport (or with an airport that doesn’t offer commercial flights)?

You all may be interested to know that Springfield, Illinois’ Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport is in danger of closing (or, at least, not having any commercial carriers flying into or out of it). Population of Springfield: 111,000.

I think I read somewhere that Detroit’s airport was closed for some time, but is now back open.

I assume you mean an airport without regularly scheduled passenger service because there are thousands of airports across the U.S. and they serve all kinds of commercial needs even if there isn’t regular passenger service. Charter and delivery flights are now trying to exploit underused niches in underserved airports. There are are several air taxi operators that have recently started to provide on-demand service in underutilized areas as well.

The city of Worcester, MA with a population of 173,000 is a city in its own right even though it is less than 50 miles from Boston. It has an airport for scheduled passenger operations but it has shut-down in that capacity for a number of years because the greater Boston area has at least 4 passenger airports already.

Questions like this seem straightforward but they aren’t.

I suppose, under some definition you could say Cincinnatti. Since their “airport” is in Kentucky, I would suppose that there is no way it is in the city of Cincinnatti while it is in the metro area.

But the OP mentioned suburbs, and Covington, KY is essentially a suburb of Cincy. It’s a five minute cab ride from the airport to downtown.

I presume the problem in Springfield is that the major carriers are pulling out, not that the airport is actually closing. That’s not surprising, considering the proximity to St. Louis. When my grandparents were alive and living in Springfield, we’d fly in to St. Louis and drive a rental car up. It was cheaper and more convenient than making a 15-minute connecting flight. I presume that others follow a similar approach.

Pressure on the airline industry are causing them to reduce routes to smaller cities. They’re just not profitable in the deregulated era. Other state capitals function with just a regional airport. If there’s sufficient demand for commuter flights from Springfield to St. Louis/Chicago/Indianapolis, somebody will step in and do it.

We certainly have to define what we mean by “city” and “without air service” in this context. Fremont, California has over 200,000 people and has no airport. Of course, it’s right in between San Jose, Oakland, and San Francisco.


Bridgeport, CT, has a small airport, but as far as I know, no commercial airlines fly there. It has a population of 140,000 or so. Bridgeport is about 50 miles from New York so you can probably argue that it’s a suburb, as is all of southern Connecticut. But it’s a long trip from New York even by car, and it used to have commercial flights not that many years ago.

Wayne County Airport is the 10th busiest airport in the country. I can’t imagine that it’s ever closed down except temporarily. I’d need some very strong proof of this claim.

The reference was probably about Detroit City (DTT) not Wayne County (DTW)

OTOH, it’s only 20 miles to Tweed Airport in New Haven which has regular US Airways flights.

I am sorry that I don’t know Oregon geography as well as I should. Would Oregonians consider Salem to be a suburb of Portland? Its about 50 miles away and has no commercial service. Population is about 150K.

True, and it’s also probably closer to Hartford Airport than to New York. But New Haven is probably as much a suburb of NYC as Bridgeport is in Connecticut terms. For all I know, they may consider Hartford a suburb of Boston. Didn’t they once plan to move a Boston pro team there?

I just wanted to mention it as a sizable city in its own right that has lost airport service, rather than an overgrown suburb as so many of the newer places are.

Topeka, KS is such a nexus of suckitude, that despite being something like 60 miles from Kansas City, in a different state, having a population over 120,000, and being a state capitol(!), it doesn’t have a commercial airport.

Rather than use “suburb” as a disqualifier, I think it’d be better to ask, “What is the largest city that is not within X miles of a commerical airport.” Assuming X is a reasonable number, I think the city in question is going to be pretty small.

There’s a list here (warning: PDF) of rural airports that, as I understand it, serve less than 100,000 passengers per year. It looks like there are some pretty small towns on that list.

Really? I had always heard that Santa Fe New Mexico was the only state capitol without major airline service. I think Santa Fe now has a few flights a day to Denver and Phoenix. But that was not the case when I was living in New Mexico.

There’s also Dover, Delaware.


When I was living in Albuquerque way back when, I think there were some puddle-jumper flights into and out of a small airport in Santa Fe, but nothing like a major airport or services. I think I remember Mesa Airlines could fly you into Santa Fe from Albuquerque. They still called it the only capital without an airport then, even with that limited service.

And also Bloomington and Peoria.

The major carriers are pulling out, and once they’re all gone, the airport will have to close. At least as regards regularly-scheduled passenger flights. I’m sure private, state, and corporate aircraft will sill be flying in and out.

IMHO, it’s pretty sad when a city of 111,000 people, and a state capitol no less, has no regularly-scheduled passenger air service. Nexus of suckitude, indeed!

Thanks. I’ll file that under piece of evidence #286 in a rapidly growing case.

To the list of state capitals without commercial air service, add Montpelier, Vermont

While it seems that airports are consolidating in some parts of the country, the trend in the northeastern US has been just the opposite. Because of congestion in places like Boston and New York, regional airports are becoming major players – operating almost as hubs. Stewart Airport in Newburgh, NY is one example. It’s 100 miles north of NYC, but they’ve got five carriers (American, Northwest, US Air, Jet Blue, and AirTran). Population of Newburgh is about 28,000.

Green Airport in Warwick, RI is another example. They’ve got at least eight major carriers flying scheduled routes in and out of there. It’s about 60 miles south of Boston and 100 miles east of Hartford, CT.

Good call. The idea that a city of a certain importance has to have its “own” airport with “commercial” (meaning scheduled passenger carrier; and that’s counting regionals) service may be attractive for the Chamber of Commerce/town booster types but it is of little significance for the airlines, or for a lot of potential flyers.