When the Covid lockdown hit, in spring 2020, international passenger traffic at Los Angeles International Airport plunged to nearly zero. And for most of the last two years, international travel was very slow to rebound and acted as a drag on overall passenger traffic at the region’s largest airport.
But in the last few months, and especially in July, international passengers have led the recovery at LAX. During July, more than 1.8 million international travelers went through the gates at LAX, the highest level since the pandemic began. That’s just about double the level of July of last year and 28% short of pre-pandemic July 2019.
The numbers mark a significant improvement over July of last year, when international passenger counts at LAX were running 64% behind July 2019.
The accelerating rebound in international travel at LAX helped boost the performance of all four of the region’s airports: LAX, Ontario International, Hollywood-Burbank and Long Beach.
Altogether, 7.7 million passengers went through the gates at the four airports serving Los Angeles County in July, up 15% from last year and only 21.5% short of pre-pandemic July 2019. For the entire first half of 2022, passenger traffic ran 25% behind the same period in 2019.
Last month, Norse Atlantic Airways launched nonstop service from Los Angeles to both Oslo, Norway and Berlin, Germany. And on Aug. 31, Air Premia, a startup South Korean airline, announced it would begin service between LAX and Incheon International Airport, located near Seoul, in early October.
While international travel has soared at LAX, domestic travel stalled in July. Roughly 4.5 million domestic passengers went through the gates at LAX in July, down nearly 3% from July of last year. Staffing shortages and more incidents of severe weather led to higher levels of cancelled flights nationwide in July.
Overall, more than 6.3 million passengers went through LAX in July, up 14% from last year, but still 25% short of July 2019’s pre-pandemic level.
Los Angeles World Airports also released preliminary August passenger data, based on boardings recorded by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. Those figures showed 2.86 million people boarded aircraft at LAX last month, up nearly 20% from August of last year, but down more than 23% from the same month in pre-pandemic 2019.
The TSA boarding figures do not include arriving passengers or those who don’t go through security checkpoints as they connect to other flights.
Meanwhile, the three other airports serving Los Angeles County – Ontario, Hollywood-Burbank and Long Beach – continued their strong rebound from the pandemic.