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Monday, Jan 30, 2023

Traffic Drops and Terminals Close at LAX

Passenger traffic has tumbled more than 90% at Los Angeles International Airport as airlines have slashed flights and consolidated operations in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

At the April 9 board meeting of the Los Angeles World Airports Board of Airport Commissioners, interim Chief Executive Justin Erbacci said the decline has prompted the complete shutdown of one terminal and the partial closure of another.

Erbacci added that air passenger traffic during the last week has fallen between 90% and 95% from the corresponding period in 2019.

Last April, 7.23 million passengers, or roughly 240,000 passengers per day, went through LAX. The current number is between 12,000 and 24,000 passengers per day.

With passenger counts falling, airlines have been cutting flights to and from LAX. On April 7, Chicago-based United Airlines Inc. announced it was eliminating 20 daily flights at LAX, bringing its new total to just 13.

New York-based JetBlue Airways has cut roughly 85% of its flights in the five largest metro markets it serves, leaving just five daily flights at LAX.

“We understand that the other major airlines also will be reducing their flights and routes in significant ways in the near future,” LAWA Board President Sean Burton said at the board meeting.

The cutbacks have prompted at least two airlines with operations in multiple terminals at LAX to consolidate into single terminals, Burton said. “This provides an opportunity for us to work with our airline partners to reassess our operations,” he said.

During the first week of April, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines Inc. halted operations in Terminal 3 and consolidated them into Terminal 2, leading to a complete shutdown of Terminal 3.

And after United’s April 7 announcement, LAWA has been coordinating with United on closing most of Terminal 8 and shifting those operations into Terminal 7.

The sharp downturn in passengers, along with Covid-19 related bans on dining in food-service establishments has also led to a steep drop in airport revenue from concession operations.

“While we are keeping open at least some shops in all the operating terminals, 68% of our concessions have closed temporarily, and concession sales revenue is down between 80% and 90% versus the same time last year,” Burton said.

Similarly, revenues at rental car operations around LAX have also plunged about 90%, he said.

Healthcare/biomed, energy, engineering/construction and infrastructure reporter Howard Fine can be reached at hfine@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.

Howard Fine
Howard Fine
Howard Fine is a 23-year veteran of the Los Angeles Business Journal. He covers stories pertaining to healthcare, biomedicine, energy, engineering, construction, and infrastructure. He has won several awards, including Best Body of Work for a single reporter from the Alliance of Area Business Publishers and Distinguished Journalist of the Year from the Society of Professional Journalists.

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