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Louisville International Airport

Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (IATA: SDF, ICAO: KSDF, FAA LID: SDF) is a civil-military airport in Louisville in Jefferson County, Kentucky. The airport covers 1,500 acres (6.1 km2)[1] and has three runways. Its IATA airport code, SDF, is based on the airport's former name, Standiford Field. It has no regularly-scheduled international passenger flights, but it is a port of entry, as it handles numerous international cargo flights.[4]

Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport

Standiford Field
Louisville Muhammad International Airport.svg
Airport typePublic
Owner/OperatorLouisville Regional Airport Authority (LRAA)
ServesLouisville, Kentucky
Hub forUPS Airlines
Elevation AMSL501 ft / 153 m
Coordinates38°10′27″N 085°44′11″W / 38.17417°N 85.73639°W / 38.17417; -85.73639Coordinates: 38°10′27″N 085°44′11″W / 38.17417°N 85.73639°W / 38.17417; -85.73639
SDF is located in Kentucky
SDF is located in the United States
SDF (the United States)
Direction Length Surface
ft m
17R/35L 11,887 3,623 Concrete
17L/35R 8,579 2,615 Concrete
11/29 7,250 2,210 Concrete
Statistics (2018)
Aircraft operations169,699
Based aircraft36
Passengers3.8 million
Cargo handled5,782,767,038 lbs.
Sources: FAA,[1] RITA/BTS,[2] Airport website[3]

Over 3.8 million passengers and over 5.7 billion pounds (2.89 million tons) of cargo passed through the airport in 2018.[5] It is also the third-busiest in the United States in terms of cargo traffic, and seventh-busiest for such in the world.[6] The National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2011–2015 categorized it as a "primary commercial service" airport since it has over 10,000 passenger boardings (enplanements) per year.[7] As per Federal Aviation Administration records, the airport had 1,877,861 revenue enplanements in 2018, an increase of 11.46% from 1,684,738 in 2017.[8]

The airport is home to Worldport, the worldwide hub of UPS. The Kentucky Air National Guard's 123d Airlift Wing operates C-130 transport aircraft from the co-located Louisville Air National Guard Base.

On January 16, 2019 the Regional Airport Authority voted to change the name of the airport to Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport in honor of the legendary boxing great Muhammad Ali who is a Louisville native.[9] On June 6, 2019, the airport unveiled its new logo, featuring "Ali's silhouette, arms up and victorious, against the background of a butterfly."[10]


Standiford Field was built by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1941 on a parcel of land south of Louisville that was found not to have flooded during the Ohio River flood of 1937. It was named for Dr. Elisha David Standiford, a local businessman and politician, who was active in transportation issues and owned part of the land. The field remained under Army control until 1947, when it was turned over to the Louisville Air Board for commercial operations.[11]

Until around 1947 Bowman Field was Louisville's main airport. For many years passenger traffic went through the small brick Lee Terminal at Standiford Field. Today's more modern and much larger facilities were built in the 1980s. Most of the Lee Terminal was later torn down.[citation needed]

When Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport was built by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers in 1941, it had one 4,000-foot (1,200 m) runway and was called Standiford Field. The airfield opened to the public in 1947 and all commercial service from Bowman Field moved to Standiford Field. American, Eastern, and TWA were the first airlines and had 1,300 passengers a week. The airlines used World War II barracks on the east side of the field until May 25, 1950, when a proper terminal opened. Lee Terminal could handle 150,000 passengers annually and included 6 new gates, which increased terminal space to 114,420 square feet (10,630 m2). The three runways (1, 6 and 11) were all 5000 ft.

The April 1957 Official Airline Guide shows 45 weekday departures on Eastern Airlines, 19 American, 9 TWA, 4 Piedmont and 2 Ozark. Scheduled jet flights (Eastern 720s to Idlewild) began in January–February 1962.

In 1970 the terminal again expanded; the main lobby was extended and the 33,000-square-foot (3,100 m2) Delta Air Lines concourse was built.[11]

The 1980s brought plans for a new terminal, the Louisville Airport Improvement plan (LAIP). Construction of a new landside terminal designed by Bickel-Gibson Associated Architects Inc. began, costing $35 million with capacity for nearly 2 million passengers in 1985.[12] Parallel runways, needed for expanded UPS operations, were part of the airport expansion.[11] Most of the improvements were completed in the 1990s and the airport was totally renewed.

During the 1990s, Southwest Airlines addition to the airport helped passenger boardings increase 97.3 percent. In 1995 the airport's name was changed from Standiford Field to Louisville International Airport. Around that time SDF opened the two new parallel runways: runway 17L/35R, 8,578 feet (2,615 m) long and runway 17R/35L, 11,887 feet (3,623 m); both are 150 feet (46 m) wide. The Kentucky Air National Guard moved its base to SDF with 8 military aircraft; a new UPS air mail facility, new corporate hangars, a 4 level parking garage and a new control tower were also added. A new FBO was added, run by Atlantic Aviation and managed by Michael Perry.

In 2005 a $26 million terminal renovation designed by Gensler Inc. was completed.[13]

On January 16, 2019, the Louisville Regional Airport Authority voted to rename the airport Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport, after boxing legend Muhammad Ali, a Louisville native.[14]

Yearly passenger enplanements are about 1.9 million and are forecast to increase in the next 5 years. Louisville International is served by several airlines including Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, United, FedEx, and UPS.[15]


In the year ending May 31, 2018, the airport had 167,470 aircraft operations, an average of 459 per day: 76% airline, 15% air taxi, 7% general aviation, and 2% military. 36 aircraft were then based at this airport: 75% jet, 22% military, and 3% single-engine.[1]


The Jerry E. Abramson Terminal is the airport's main commercial terminal. It consists of two floors with ground transportation and baggage claim services on the first; and ticketing, passenger drop off, and concourse access on the second.[16] There are 23 gates in the two concourses. These concourses are connected by a rotunda and connector that contains a unified security checkpoint located in the main section of the terminal.

  • Concourse A contains 12 gates[16]
  • Concourse B contains 11 gates[16]
Amenities offered at SDF
Category Name Location
Shopping 24-Hour Flower Center Upper Level, Pre-Security
Shopping Brooks Brothers Upper Level, Pre-Security
Shopping Churchill Downs Store Upper Level, Pre-Security
Shopping Kentucky Bourbon Trail Upper Level, Pre-Security
Shopping Louisville Slugger Upper Level, Pre-Security
Shopping TODAY Store Upper Level, Pre-Security
Shopping Winner’s Circle Landside Baggage Claim
Shopping Brighton Airside Rotunda
Shopping CNBC News Express Concourse A
Shopping Distillery District Marketplace Airside Rotunda
Shopping Finish Line News Airside Rotunda
Shopping WAVE 3 News Concourse B
Dining Book and Bourbon Southern Kitchen Upper Level, Pre-Security
Dining The Comfy Cow Upper Level, Pre-Security
Dining KFC Upper Level, Pre-Security
Dining Starbucks Upper Level, Pre-Security
Dining Bourbon Academy Tasting Room Airside Rotunda
Dining Chili’s Bar & Grill Concourse A
Dining Coals Artisan Pizza Concourse B
Dining Farmers Market Concourse B
Dining The Local Rustic Market Concourse A
Dining Smashburger Concourse B
Dining Starbucks Airside Rotunda
Source: Louisville Regional Airport Authority[17][18]

In the future, the focus will be on growing more nonstop destinations and investing in a program called SDF Next, which will involve more than $100 million in terminal enhancements. SDF Next will include upgrades to the moving walkways, elevators and security checkpoint, as well as significant changes to parking and rental car services. Adding Federal Inspection Services in the next four years to allow international flights, specifically Mexico, is also in the works.


Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport has three concrete runways, two of which are parallel with one crosswind. The westernmost runway (17R/35L) is the longest of the three at 11,887 feet (3,623 m) and was extended in 2007 to accommodate larger aircraft flying nonstop to destinations as far away as the Pacific Rim and Asia.[19]

Runway Length (ft) Length (m) Width (ft) Width (m) Notes
17R/35L 11,887 3,623 150 46 Instrument landing system/Distance measuring equipment (ILS/DME) equipped
17L/35R 8,579 2,615 150 46 Instrument landing system /Distance measuring equipment (ILS/DME) equipped
11/29 7,250 2,210 150 46 Localizer equipped on Runway 29
Source: Air Nav[20]

Airlines and destinationsEdit


Allegiant Air Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Orlando/Sanford, Punta Gorda (FL), St. Petersburg/Clearwater
Seasonal: Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Myrtle Beach, New Orleans, Sarasota, Savannah
American Airlines Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles [22]
American Eagle Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, New York–LaGuardia, Philadelphia, Washington–National [22]
Delta Air Lines Atlanta [23]
Delta Connection Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–LaGuardia
Seasonal: Atlanta
Frontier Airlines Denver
Seasonal: Orlando
Southwest Airlines Baltimore, Chicago–Midway, Dallas–Love, Denver, Houston–Hobby, Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Tampa
Seasonal: Fort Lauderdale
United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark, Washington–Dulles [25]


Air Cargo Carriers Beckley, Charleston (WV), Decatur, Madison, Warsaw (IN)
Ameriflight Huntsville, Knoxville, Moline/Quad Cities, Peoria, Smyrna (TN), South Bend
FedEx Express Cincinnati, Memphis, Oakland
SkyLink Express Hamilton (ON)
UPS Airlines Albany (GA), Albany (NY), Albuquerque, Anchorage, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Billings, Birmingham (AL), Bogotá, Boston, Buffalo, Burbank, Casablanca, Cedar Rapids, Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Cleveland, Cologne/Bonn, Columbia (SC), Columbus–Rickenbacker, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Des Moines, Detroit, Dubai, East Midlands, Fargo, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Fort Wayne, Greensboro, Greenville/Spartanburg, Hamilton (ON), Harrisburg, Hartford, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Houston–Intercontinental, Jackson (MS), Jacksonville, Kansas City, Knoxville, Lafayette, Lansing, Las Vegas, Little Rock, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Manchester (NH), McAllen, Memphis, Mexico City, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Montréal–Mirabel, Newark, Newburgh, New Orleans, New York–JFK, Oakland, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Ontario, Orange County (CA), Orlando, Peoria, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Pittsburgh, Portland (OR), Providence, Raleigh/Durham, Richmond, Sacramento–Mather, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Jose (CA), San Juan, Seattle–Boeing, Seoul–Incheon, Shanghai–Pudong, Sioux Falls, Springfield (MO), Syracuse, Tampa, Tokyo–Narita, Toronto–Pearson, Tulsa, Vancouver, Campinas–Viracopos, Washington–Dulles, West Palm Beach


Airline market shareEdit

Carrier shares for September 2018 – August 2019[2]
Carrier   Passengers (arriving and departing)

Top destinationsEdit

Busiest domestic routes from SDF (September 2018 - August 2019)[2]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1   Atlanta, Georgia 345,770 Delta
2   Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 155,930 American, United
3   Charlotte, North Carolina 154,290 American
4   Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 129,330 American
5   Baltimore, Maryland 112,270 Southwest
6   Chicago–Midway, Illinois 112,020 Southwest
7   Denver, Colorado 100,480 Frontier, Southwest, United
8   Detroit, Michigan 76,260 Delta
9   Houston–Intercontinental, Texas 69,260 United
10   New York–LaGuardia, New York 67,390 American, Delta

Annual trafficEdit

Traffic by calendar year
Passengers Change from previous year Aircraft operations Cargo tonnage
2003 3,291,586 - - -
2004 3,399,712  03.28% 168,372 1,917,463
2005 3,696,524  08.73% 179,681 2,000,869
2006 3,637,795  01.58% 178,439 2,186,283
2007 3,812,299  04.79% 171,573 2,292,114
2008 3,678,919  03.49% 158,356 2,176,711
2009 3,254,657  011.53% 146,492 2,148,987
2010 3,343,968  02.74% 153,180 2,388,740
2011 3,392,745  01.45% 152,996 2,412,323
2012 3,365,115  00.81% 147,680 2,390,218
2013 3,404,080  01.15% 149,260 2,442,809
2014 3,355,811  01.41% 148,429 2,527,853
2015 3,359,472  00.11% 149,133 2,591,155
2016 3,346,545  00.38% 156,200 2,686,344
2017 3,474,340  03.81% 163,676 2,868,981
2018 3,866,057  011.27% 169,699 2,891,384
2019 (Jan-Sep) 3,157,676  011.51% 127,040 2,216,477
Source: Louisville Regional Airport Authority[26]


Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport is home to a Republic Airline maintenance complex, capable of holding nine planes.

In addition to commercial air traffic there is a significant amount of general aviation activity at Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport, for business travel and other purposes such as the Kentucky Derby.[27]


UPS Worldport Air Hub at Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport

Worldport is the worldwide air hub for UPS (United Parcel Service) located at the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport. Although UPS has had a hub at Louisville since 1980, the term was not used officially by the company until 2002, after a $1 billion, five-year expansion.[28] Previously, the project was named Hub 2000. The facility is currently the size of 5.2 million square feet (48 ha; 80 football fields) and capable of handling 115 packages a second, or 416,000 per hour.[29] With over 20,000 employees, UPS is one of the largest employers in both the city of Louisville and the Commonwealth of Kentucky as a whole. The facility, which serves all of the company's major international and domestic hubs, mainly handles express and international packages and letters.

A UPS 757 cargo aircraft in former UPS livery.

A one-million-square-foot expansion was completed in spring 2006 to integrate heavy freight into the UPS system. The expansion was prefaced by the purchase of Menlo Worldwide Forwarding, formerly Emery Worldwide. The new facility, designated Worldport Freight Facility (HWP), went online in April 2006 and was the first of the company's regional hubs to begin integrating the Menlo volume into the system. Menlo's facility in Dayton, Ohio, was taken offline in June 2006.

In May 2006, UPS announced that for the third time in seven years it would significantly expand its Worldport hub, with a second billion-dollar investment. The second expansion was completed in April 2010, with the facility now measuring 5,200,000 square feet (480,000 m2), with a perimeter of 7.2 miles (11.6 km). The plan was for more than one million square feet to be added to its existing facility, with another 334,500-square-foot (31,080 m2) of space to be renovated with new technology and equipment. Worldport sorting capacity was to expand from 300,000 packages per hour to 416,000 packages per hour. Additionally, several ramps at the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport were to be built or altered bringing a total increase of just over 3,000,000 square feet (280,000 m2).

Since many of the jobs are part-time and overnight, UPS has hired mostly college students by offering both nationwide tuition reimbursement and a special program called Metropolitan College, in which University of Louisville and Jefferson Community and Technical College students who work part-time overnight can receive 100% tuition reimbursement.

Worldport was featured on an episode of the television show Ultimate Factories in June 2008.

Accidents and incidentsEdit

  • On September 28, 1953, Resort Airlines Flight 1081, a Curtiss C-46 Commando leased from the USAF, crashed on landing at Louisville-Standiford Field when the aircraft ballooned slightly during the flare-out, causing a loss of control when it climbed to 300 feet and stalled. Out of the 41 on board, 22 passengers and 3 crew were killed. Failure of the left elevator during landing was the cause.[30]
  • On August 14, 2013, UPS Airlines Flight 1354 registration N155UP from Louisville to Birmingham, Alabama crashed while attempting to land on Runway 18 at Birmingham–Shuttlesworth International Airport. Both pilots were killed.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c FAA Airport Master Record for SDF (Form 5010 PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. effective November 15, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c "RITA | BTS | Transtats - Louisville, KY: Louisville International-Standiford Field (SDF)". March 2014. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
  3. ^ "Reports and Statistics". Louisville Regional Airport Authority. Archived from the original on April 6, 2015.
  4. ^ US Customs and Border Patrol Archived October 30, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Louisville Regional Airport Authority Aviation Statistics" (PDF). December 2018. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 10, 2019. Retrieved February 9, 2019.
  6. ^ "Table 2 – TOTAL CARGO TRAFFIC 2013 - Preliminary World Airport Traffic and Rankings 2013 - High Growth Dubai Moves Up to 7th Busiest Airport - Mar 31, 2014". Airports Council International. March 31, 2014. Archived from the original on April 1, 2014. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
  7. ^ "2011–2015 NPIAS Report, Appendix A" (PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. October 4, 2010. Archived from the original (PDF, 2.03 MB) on September 27, 2012.
  8. ^ "Calendar Year 2018 Final Revenue Enplanements at All Airports" (PDF, 2.9 MB). Federal Aviation Administration. October 9, 2019. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  9. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on January 22, 2019. Retrieved January 21, 2019.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ Ladd, Sarah (June 7, 2019). "Louisville's renamed Muhammad Ali International Airport debuts logo". Louisville Courier Journal. Retrieved June 7, 2019.
  11. ^ a b c "History". Louisville International Airport. Archived from the original on August 18, 2016. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  12. ^ "Engineering News-Record". 209. McGraw-Hill. 1982. Archived from the original on July 8, 2014. Retrieved June 14, 2012. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. ^ Adams, Brent (June 17, 2002). "Capital projects at Louisville Airport proceed; officials keep eye on security costs". Louisville Business First. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  14. ^ Kobin, Billy (January 16, 2019). "Louisville is renaming its airport after Muhammad Ali". Courier Journal. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  15. ^ "Airlines". Louisville International Airport. Archived from the original on August 18, 2016. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  16. ^ a b c Louisville Regional Airport Authority. "Terminal Map". Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  17. ^ "Shopping". Retrieved October 16, 2019.
  18. ^ "Dining". Retrieved October 16, 2019.
  19. ^ "Louisville Regional Airport Authority 20017 Annual Report" (PDF). Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  20. ^ "Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport". Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  21. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 12, 2019. Retrieved February 12, 2019.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ a b "Flight schedules and notifications". American Airlines. Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
  23. ^ a b "FLIGHT SCHEDULES". Archived from the original on June 21, 2015. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  24. ^ "Check Flight Schedules". Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  25. ^ "Timetable". Archived from the original on January 28, 2017. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  26. ^ "Reports and Statistics". Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  27. ^ Epstein, Curt (May 5, 2015). "Derby, Boxing Match Fuel Atlantic's Best Day Ever". Aviation International News. Archived from the original on May 9, 2015. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  28. ^ UPS Pressroom: Press Release Archive
  29. ^ "UPS Worldport Facts". Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved November 28, 2013.
  30. ^ Accident description for N66534 at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on April 30, 2019.

External linksEdit