Let’s Fly Away: LAX saw a bump in its number of passengers, continuing a trend that began in January.

Let’s Fly Away: LAX saw a bump in its number of passengers, continuing a trend that began in January. Photo by Ringo Chiu.

Passenger traffic edged up at local airports in May as Los Angeles International Airport — the region’s largest — posted a nearly 1% gain, and Ontario International Airport saw an 8% jump in passengers.

The increase was tempered by a 12% drop in passengers at Long Beach Airport, which continued to experience fallout from the decision by JetBlue Airways Corp. to sharply scale back operations there.

Overall 8,394,150 passengers went through the three airports in May, up 68,000 — or 0.8% from May 2018.

LAX accounted for all of this numeric gain in passengers, as the jump of roughly 36,000 passengers at Ontario was effectively canceled out by the drop of approximately the same amount at Long Beach.

A 25% jump in international passenger traffic led the growth at Ontario. Taiwan-based China Airlines Ltd. inaugurated transoceanic service there roughly a year ago.

At Long Beach, JetBlue passenger traffic was down 38%. The New York-based airline curtailed operations there last summer after a failed bid to launch international service from the airport. Even with the cutbacks, JetBlue still comprised roughly 54% of May’s passenger traffic at Long Beach. Southwest Airlines more than doubled its May passenger traffic at Long Beach to more than 90,000 this year from less than 45,000 in 2018.

Hollywood Burbank Airport is due to report May passenger data this week. In April, passenger traffic there rose 10.6% to 486,027 compared to the same month last year.

Similar trends bore out when looking at total passenger traffic during the first five months of 2019 compared to the same period last year.

LAX passenger traffic over those five months rose by 349,000 — or 1% — from last year to top 35 million. Ontario passenger traffic rose by 117,500 — or 6% — to top 2.1 million. But Long Beach Airport passenger counts fell by 266,000 — or 16% — to 1.4 million.

Overall, passenger traffic at the three airports rose by 200,000 — or 0.5% — during the first five months of this year to reach 38.5 million.

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