Passenger traffic at ONT in March exceeds pre-COVID levels
Ontario International Airport (ONT) had eagerly awaited a month in which passenger volumes would be higher than the same month before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now the wait is over as the gateway welcomed 454,000 travellers last month, 4% more than in March 2019.
“Ontario is setting the pace of recovery among airports in California and, as a result, it is an attractive metropolitan gateway for airlines restarting suspended services and establishing new routes as public health restrictions ease and demand for air travel increases,” enthused Alan Wapner, president of the Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA) Board of Commissioners.
Domestic passengers totalled 439,531 in March 2022, while the number of international travellers was almost 15,000, increases of 71% and 446%, respectively, compared with March of last year.
Most importantly, domestic and international passenger volumes combined was 3.97% higher in March compared with the same month three years ago.
Airport CEO, Atif Elkadi, noted: “The March passenger numbers are a tremendous achievement for our airport and airline partners, launching Ontario International’s pandemic recovery to an even higher level.
“We can’t say for sure what the coming months will bring, but the March passenger count shows what full recovery looks like.”
According to the airport, the emergence of ONT as an increasingly popular aviation gateway comes as the Inland Empire experiences a steady influx of new residents, particularly from the coastal areas of Los Angeles and Orange counties, drawn by employment opportunities, available housing and high quality of life.
Indeed, based on US Census data, San Bernardino and Riverside counties have experienced the fifth-largest population gain among the top 50 metro areas in the United States.
From January through March, the number of passengers who travelled through ONT doubled compared to the same period last year. The first quarter figures were 3.7% lower than 2019.
Shipments of air cargo likewise remained strong in March compared with March 2019, increasing by 22%.
On a year-to-date basis, shipments of freight and mail combined were 18% higher than the first quarter of 2019 as the Inland Empire continued to be a hub for commercial freight movement.
Compared to 2021, March and year-to-date cargo shipments decreased 6.5% and 7%, respectively.