Robert Mueller Municipal Airport (1930–1999, // “Miller”) was the first civilian airport built in Austin, Texas, United States. It was replaced as Greater Austin‘s main airport by the Austin–Bergstrom International Airport. A few miles northeast of downtown Austin, the airport was named after Robert Mueller, a city commissioner who died in office in January 1927. Robert Mueller Municipal Airport was identified with the airport code AUS, which was reassigned to Austin–Bergstrom International Airport in 1999.
As the need for commercial air service became clear in the 1920s, the 1928 Austin city plan called for the establishment of a municipal airport. Austin voters supported a bond election to fund the airport (among other projects) later in 1928. The airport was constructed a few miles northeast of downtown, on what was then the edge of the city. The airport began operation on 14 October 1930; airline flights began in 1936.
In the 1950s, developers began building housing beneath the flight paths of Mueller and airport traffic increased as the city grew. The April 1957 OAG lists 33 weekday departures on three airlines: fifteen on Braniff International Airways, ten on Trans-Texas Airways (TTa) and eight on Continental Airlines. Nonstop flights didn’t reach beyond San Antonio, San Angelo, Dallas Love Field or Houston Hobby Airport. The first scheduled nonstop beyond Texas was a Braniff Boeing 727 to Washington Dulles Airport in 1968; that flight lasted until 1980. It was the only nonstop out of the state until Braniff tried a Chicago O’Hare Airport nonstop in 1978.
In 1963, Continental was flying Vickers Viscount turboprops Houston Hobby Airport – Austin – San Angelo – Midland/Odessa – El Paso – Tucson – Phoenix – Los Angeles and direct to Lubbock and Amarillo. By 1964, Continental had dropped Austin but by 1970 the airline had returned.
The jet age arrived in Austin in 1965 when Braniff introduced British Aircraft CorporationBAC One-Elevens nonstop to Dallas Love Field and San Antonio and direct to Chicago O’Hare, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Wichita, Amarillo, Lubbock and Corpus Christi. In its September 7, 1965 timetable Braniff was flying Lockheed L-188 Electra propjets nonstop to Dallas Love Field, Fort Worth (via Greater Southwest International Airport) and San Antonio with direct Electras to Washington D.C. National Airport, Denver, Colorado Springs, Oklahoma City and Corpus Christi.
By 1968, Trans-Texas Airways was operating Douglas DC-9-10s to Mueller with nonstops to Dallas Love Field, Houston Hobby and San Antonio and direct to New Orleans, Memphis, Little Rock and Corpus Christi.
In early 1976, the same three airlines were at AUS (Trans-Texas Airways had changed its name to Texas International Airlines). Braniff was operating up to eight nonstops a day to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport with Boeing 727-100s and 727-200s, the nonstop 727 to Washington Dulles Airport, and a nonstop 727-200 to San Antonio. Braniff 727s flew one-stop direct to Chicago O’Hare Airport, New York JFK Airport, Kansas City, Memphis and Amarillo and direct, multi-stop to Detroit, Newark and Washington National Airport. All of the Continental service was being operated with Boeing 727-200s, nonstop three times a day to Houston Intercontinental Airport and to Midland/Odessa, and one stop to Miami and El Paso. Continental was also operating direct, multi-stop service several times a day to Los Angeles (LAX), Phoenix and Tucson, and later flew Boeing 720Bs to Mueller on the multi-stop route between IAH and LAX. Texas International was flying nonstop Douglas DC-9-10s to Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport, Houston Intercontinental, Lubbock and San Antonio with one-stops to Albuquerque, Amarillo, Corpus Christi, Laredo and Little Rock. Texas International also flew direct, multi-stop DC-9s to Denver and Los Angeles and nonstop Convair 600 turboprops to Houston in addition to its DC-9 service on the route. By 1979, Texas International was flying McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30s and DC-9-10s and all airline flights from Mueller were operated with mainline jets.
On February 13, 1978 Southwest Airlines, operating as an intrastate airline at this time, began Boeing 737-200 service to Mueller. In July 1978, Southwest was flying nonstop from Austin to Dallas Love Field, Houston Hobby, Corpus Christi and Harlingen. In 1979, Delta Air Lines and Eastern Air Lines began serving Austin, both airlines flying nonstop to Atlanta with Eastern also operating nonstop to Houston Intercontinental and one-stop to Boston. Delta was operating Boeing 727-200s while Eastern was flying Boeing 727-100 and McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30s to the airport. In 1981, American Airlines began service to Mueller, followed in 1983 by United Airlines and USAir (which was renamed US Airways and subsequently merged with American Airlines). American was flying nonstop to Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW), Chicago O’Hare, and Corpus Christi during the early 1980s and was operating Boeing 727-100s and 727-200s as well as McDonnell Douglas MD-80 and wide bodyMcDonnell Douglas DC-10 jets into the airport. American introduced Austin’s first wide body service with nonstop DC-10 flights to Dallas/Ft. Worth and would later operate the Boeing 767 to DFW from Mueller as well. United was operating nonstop Boeing 727-100s to Chicago O’Hare, Denver, Dallas/Ft. Worth, and San Antonio while USAir was flying nonstop to Houston Intercontinental with one flight a day operated with a Boeing 737-200 with direct, one stop service to Pittsburgh. Other airlines operating jets to Austin during the 1980s included America West Airlines, Emerald Air (which was based in Austin and operated not only independently but also as Pan Am Express), Muse Air and its successor TranStar Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Pan Am, Trans World Airlines (TWA), and Western Airlines. By the late 1980s, every major U.S. air carrier was serving Robert Mueller Municipal Airport with mainline jets.