Wednesday, November 3, 2004
Two California airports see solid gains in passenger volumes
The Riverside (CA) Press-Enterprise
Inland Empire airports have continued to post solid gains in passenger volumes through the first three quarters of 2004, putting them on pace for record years. Almost 550,000 passengers used Ontario International Airport in September, beating the same month of 2003 by 40,000 people in the busiest September in history. At its current pace Ontario would fall short of its first 7-million-passenger year, but easily top 2000 for the busiest year in airport history.
Ontario International has beaten its 2003 performance every month of 2004 except January.
Palm Springs International Airport boasts similar results. The desert airport made double-digit gains in August and September despite having fewer seats due to airline cutbacks.
More than 69,000 passengers used Palm Springs International in September, a figure that is 10 percent higher than September 2003.
Bryant Francis, senior marketing and communications administrator for the airport said 2004 is on a record pace. Airlines that run seasonal service have begun adding flights with some arriving earlier than in previous years.
Not only are there more flights to the desert, the planes that are leaving Palm Springs have more passengers per plane than in years past.
“I think it’s good for us that while our seat capacity is growing but not as rapidly as our passenger volume,” Francis said.
“That’s a very positive sign to show airlines.”
In Ontario, the gains are more impressive on the cargo side. The airport added 1,068 tons this September compared to 2003, a 2.25 percent increase. Already among the top 15 cargo airports in the United States, Ontario International may overtake Philadelphia to move up another spot among the busiest cargo ports in the nation. Buoyed by United Parcel Service’s west coast hub, the airport could reach 600,000 tons for the first time in its history.
Ontario’s twin terminals are designed to handle 10 million annual passengers. Aeroterm, a Maryland-based cargo developer, plans to add 1 million square feet of additional cargo space to the airport, beginning in 2006.
Maria Fermin, a spokeswoman for Ontario International, said current growth has not yet prompted a need to hire additional workers.