Passenger volume increases at Ontario airport in 2021, but below pre-pandemic level – Daily Report
More than 4.5 million air travelers entered and exited Ontario International Airport last year, a significant increase from 2020 but well below pre-pandemic passenger volumes.
While airport officials predicted a return to the airport’s passenger numbers in 2019, that didn’t happen, despite adding new flights to new destinations, including Hawaii and El Salvador. Passenger volume for 2021 was just 80% of what the airport saw in 2019, the airport reported Wednesday, January 19.
However, the airport continues to see a steady increase in the number of passengers and also air cargo since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020 and airport officials are optimistic about 2022.
Despite the recent cancellation of flights due to the omicron variant of the coronavirus, passenger travel through the ONT in December 2021 reached 467,000, 145% more than in December 2020 and 90% of the volume recorded in December 2019 .
“We have seen encouraging signs of recovery in 2021 as demand for air travel approaches pre-pandemic levels,” wrote Alan Wapner, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the International Airport Authority. Ontario (OIAA), in a prepared statement.
About 29,000 total flights were canceled industry-wide from Dec. 25 to Jan. 11, according to the FlightAware website, an airline flight tracking service. Southwest Airlines, one of the main carriers in the ONT, was among the top three airlines for canceled flights. An airline representative said on Wednesday that the cancellations for the first week of January were the result of bad weather combined with the spike in COVID-19 cases.
“Since then, we have stabilized our operations, taking several steps to ensure we are meeting the expectations of our employees and customers,” wrote Brandy King, spokesperson for the airline. King said the airline began offering incentive pay to employees who stayed in and worked long hours.
Of the four canceled flights to or from ONT on Wednesday, all were Southwest flights, according to FlightAware.
“It’s calmed down considerably, it’s closer to normal now in general. Cancellations aren’t a big deal right now,” said Brett Snyder, who edits a blog called CrankyFlier.com from Torrance.
For the first quarter of this year, airlines scheduled 1,322 flights at the ONT, an increase of 8% compared to the same period last year, said Steve Lambert, spokesman for the ONT .
“It’s a good indication that we’re going to get back to pre-pandemic levels,” he said. Also, more airplane seats will be occupied, he said.
Southwest will add nonstop service to Austin, Texas in March, and Frontier Airlines will add new flights in April to Chicago’s Midway Airport, Lambert said.
Cargo shipments in 2021 remained almost as high as in 2020 at 890,000 tonnes, down just 3.7% from 2020 when air cargo peaked at the airport. Cargo volume at the Ontario airport last year was 14% higher than in 2019, the airport said.
“Our air freight partners continued to rely on Ontario International as a focal point in the distribution of consumer goods in Southern California,” Wapner said in the release. “Our large, modern facilities remain attractive to our tenants and are an important public asset for the region. »