Musk Denies Planning Private Austin-Area Airport

Musk Denies Planning Private Austin-Area Airport
Elon Musk waves as he gets into a Tesla Model Y | Image by William K. Clark

Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to set the record straight surrounding rumors that he was developing plans for a new private-use airport in Bastrop, Texas.

“Not true,” Musk tweeted. “Tesla is 5 mins away from Austin International airport. Would be silly to build another private airport; however, the existing commercial airport needs another runway, as Austin is growing fast!”

Austin is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. The city grew by 171,465 residents between 2010 and 2020, which outpaced Texas’ population growth rate by 5%, according to population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The rumored private-use airport would have put Musk roughly 20 miles east of Tesla’s global headquarters and gigafactory, according to local Austin news site Austonia. Musk would also have been near his SpaceX testing site and the Boring Co. tunneling company.

Even with the billions in net worth that gives Musk the financial ability to build and buy as he sees fit, regulatory hurdles would undoubtedly hold up the process of building a private airport.

Creating a new airport requires federal EPA approval for environmental impacts and FAA approval for air traffic impacts.

While the FAA does not have procedures for building a private-use airport, Musk would still be required to comply with 14 CFR Part 157, Notice of Construction, Alteration, Activation, and Deactivation, a code of federal regulations governing the creation of a private-use airport.

Several local officials said they were unaware of any plans involving Musk building a private-use airport.

“There has been no formal communication with the county regarding this airport,” said Adena Lewis, director of tourism and economic development in Bastrop.

It is unclear whether or when the private-use airport could become a reality; nevertheless, a private-use airport could come in handy for the billionaire.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) has faced several challenges this year, from fuel shortages to an unprecedented surge in flight activity. In March, ABIA experienced its busiest month on record. According to new traffic data, officials reported a 148% increase in passengers over the same period in 2021, and the 1,822,198 who went through TSA screenings exceeded the previous record by 179,000.

To help ease airport traffic amid the city’s rapid population growth, Austin City Council, in partnership with the FAA, approved the 2040 Master Plan for ABIA. The 2040 Master Plan serves as a roadmap for future expansion and modernization of the airport.

Despite the expansions approved through 2040, many air travelers are likely to continue flying private. Musk currently travels using a 2015 Gulfstream G650, but not long ago, he placed an order for a top-of-the-line private jet set for delivery in early 2023.

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