The rebound in air travel at local airports hit some turbulence in August with passenger counts down 7% from July thanks in part to the rapid spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus.

The four airports serving Los Angeles County — Los Angeles International, Ontario International, Hollywood Burbank and Long Beach — had 6.2 million passengers go through their gates in August, down from 6.7 million passengers in July.


The August passenger count was triple the level from the same month last year, though down 34.6% from pre-pandemic August 2019.
Justin Erbacci, chief executive at Los Angeles World Airports, the city agency that runs LAX, said the spread of the delta variant was only one of several factors behind the August slowdown.


“There are likely many factors influencing air travel numbers around the world right now, including Covid cases, international air travel restrictions, tourism seasonality and airline schedules,” he said.


Erbacci noted that there is typically a spike in air travel around the Independence Day holiday, so a slight falloff in passenger traffic in August from July levels is common. Also, over the summer, several airlines — chiefly Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines Group Inc. and Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Co. — had to cancel flights because of problems lining up enough pilots, crew members and planes.


Preliminary September passenger data from LAX indicates the slowdown has been continuing. Erbacci, said the fourth quarter, though, is looking a little better.
“Recent passenger numbers give us reason for cautious optimism going into the fall, and as we look ahead to our traditionally very busy Thanksgiving and winter holiday travel seasons,” he said.

 
Meanwhile, at the region’s secondary airports, Ontario International continues to be the performance star. Passenger traffic has recovered most of the ground lost in the pandemic, with the August count down only 7% from August 2019.

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