Connecting the region to the country and the world

Air transportation provides a national and global reach for the fast movement of people and time sensitive freight, offering significant advantages for long-distance travel and transport. It differs from other metro systems since its users are primarily going to, or coming from, destinations outside the metropolitan area, rather than traveling within the region.

Because of airports’ unique role in interstate commerce, the federal government has significant influence on aviation. Airports are locally owned and sponsored but must meet federal development and operational certification. Air traffic control is a federally operated service provided in federally controlled airspace.

Twin Cities regional aviation system 

The region has a well-developed aviation system that requires continued protection, maintenance, and enhancements to support the Twin Cities economy and transportation infrastructure. The Twin Cities region is served by one major airport with commercial air service — Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport — and eight reliever airports for general aviation, business, and recreational users. Two seaplane bases are also parts of the system.

The airports are classified according to their role within the regional aviation system as a major, intermediate, minor or special purpose facility. Most of the system airports are part of the National Plan of Integrated Airports (NPIAS), which makes them eligible for federal and state funding. However, state funding is not contingent on being in the NPIAS.

MSP International Airport, a hub serving the Upper Midwest, handled over 37 million passengers, nearly 413,000 aircraft operations and approximately 207,000 metric tons of cargo in 2016. The reliever airports handled about 375,000 aircraft operations in 2016. The regional system of airports serves the metropolitan area with long-term comprehensive plans for each individual airport.

Met Council’s role in the aviation system

The Met Council works with the Metropolitan Airport Commission (MAC), airport users, owners, affected communities, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to develop the aviation system plan as part of the region’s Transportation Policy Plan.

  • Prepares a guide for the orderly and economic development, private and public, of the Twin Cities area
  • Reviews MAC’s airport, environmental and capital plans/programs
  • Reviews community plans and public/private projects for compatibility with regional airports and aviation policies
  • Provides coordination, funding, and technical assistance for planning activities

Aviation studies and reports