Located in Southern California, Ontario International Airport (ONT) saw a 97% recovery in passenger traffic last month. With domestic traffic over 98% recovered, the airport’s number indicates the ongoing strength of the recovery. International traffic still lags, but Ontario’s numbers show the strength of the airport in the region.
Ontario International Airport sees a strong recovery in July
ONT has released its traffic numbers for July 2021, showing the ongoing recovery. During the month, the airport recorded 477,966 passengers pass through the airport. This was 97% of July 2019, when the airport saw 494,966 passengers pass through its doors. Compared to 2020, the airport saw a 171% improvement in passenger numbers. July 2020 saw only 176,221 passengers at ONT. The strongest recovery was in the domestic market.
The airport recorded 462,295 domestic passengers during the month, compared to the 467,990 passengers it saw in 2019. This was a minuscule decline of only 1.2%. Compared to 2020, however, the numbers are stark. In July 2020, the airport saw 172,605 domestic passengers. This was a 168% improvement in domestic passenger numbers in July 2021 compared to the same month in 2020.
Also, ONT recorded 15,671 international travelers during the month. This was down 42% from July 2019, when 26,976 international customers were recorded. Meanwhile, this was a 333% increase from July 2020, when the airport recorded only 3,616 international passengers.
The Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA) President, Alan D. Wapner, stated the following on the results:
“Ontario International’s recovery from the impact of the pandemic continues at a robust pace. Airlines are showing great confidence in our airport and our strong customer base as the demand for air travel, particularly domestic service, approaches pre-pandemic volume.”
What to make of Ontario’s numbers
July was an excellent month for airports. Reaching 97% of 2019-levels is an enviable result in the airport world, with some airports in the US still seeing double-digit declines in passenger numbers. Multiple airlines added new routes to Ontario this year ahead of the summer, which benefited the airport.
This includes American Airlines, which added new flying to Charlotte (CLT) and Chicago (ORD), with the latter starting on August 17th. Hawaiian Airlines added a new route to Honolulu (HNL). Lastly, Southwest Airlines added new flying to Houston-Hobby (HOU) from Ontario. Avianca also launched a new international service from Ontario to San Salvador (SAL).
Frontier Airlines is also turning to Ontario as a gateway for Los Angeles. The carrier added two new services to Atlanta (ATL) and Denver (DEN) from the airport as it moves away from Ontario’s larger competitor airport in the region, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). All of this combined to boost Ontario’s numbers, though there is still some room to go.
One of the highest-profile international services is China Airlines, which flew daily flights from the airport to Taipei (TPE) before the crisis hit. The airline is only operating two flights a month currently, but it is showing signs that it could come back strong once travel restrictions come down.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.
Promising future for the airport
There is a lot of hope for Ontario. For the fiscal year 2022 – starting on July 1st – ONT will be reducing its landing fees for passenger airlines to $1.71 per thousand pounds of landed weight. This is down from the $1.84 in fiscal year 2021 and $1.98 in fiscal year 2020 (pre-pandemic). Terminal facility fees will be $99.38 per square foot for the 2022 fiscal year, which is down from the pre-pandemic $109.86 per square foot facility fee.
This sets up Ontario to do well in the coming years. LAX is an expensive airport, and ONT is continuing to position itself as a Los Angeles-area alternative airport.
The Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario metro area is a growing area. The area also benefited during the crisis from new homebuyers moving to the area after being outpriced in larger major cities.
With a growing population base and the ability to market itself to tourists seeking to visit the Los Angeles area, ONT is in a good spot to benefit from future air service. Coupled with lower fees at the airport, this could work in favor of the airport in gaining new air services – including the potential for more international flying.
Do you like the Ontario International Airport? Did you arrive or depart from the airport in July? Let us know in the comments!