Double digit growth at Southern California’s Ontario Airport

An aircraft climbs out of Ontario Airport at dusk.
Photo Credit: Ontario International Airport

Southern California’s Ontario International Airport has achieved double-digit growth in passenger volume in March and the first quarter of 2023.

Maintaining momentum

The airport announced it had “maintained its momentum” as it saw double-digit growth in the first quarter and March as the Summer season starts to approach.

March saw the airport see over half a million (501,000) passengers through its doors. An increase of 10.4% for the same month of 2022.

Domestic passenger travel made up over 95% of volume at the airport with 476,000 travellers seen. This was an 8.4% increase.

International travel, tied to the easing of restrictions due to the pandemic saw the largest increase of 70.7% compared to last year. However, this only accounted for 5% of total volume with 25,000 passengers travelling internationally.

March was the busiest month for the airport since 2008 when it saw over 600,000 passengers pass through the terminal.

As a quarter, passenger numbers have increased 16.6% compared to the same quarter in 2023, with a total of 1.3 million passengers. Domestic and international passenger numbers increased by 14.7% and 67.5%, respectively.

Atif Elkadi, CEO of Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA), said, “We are pleased with the sustained growth in passenger volumes experienced in the first quarter, which is on top of the full pandemic recovery that ONT achieved in 2022.”

Decrease in commercial freight

Unfortunately, the airport saw a 10.3% decrease in commercial freight and mail in March compared to the same month in 2022. This is in step with global cargo volumes decreasing around 11% in Q1 compared to the previous year.

The airport is an important cargo hub in Southern California with increasing volumes year-on-year since 2008. It peaked in 2020/2021 as it provided critical cargo services during the pandemic.

The airport said it continues to outperform the industry with only a 9% lower cargo tonnage year-to-date. It cites the reduction as being due to slower consumer demand and higher interest rates.

‘Premier Gateway for Southern California’

Avianca, Volaris and China Airlines are the only international passenger airlines at the airport. Avianca operates to El Salvador.

Volaris to Guadalajara, Mexico. And China Airlines to Taipei, Taiwan. Domestic airlines are American, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest and United all operated to the contiguous United States of America.

Alaska and Hawaiian both provide links to Alaska and Hawaii respectively. China Airlines provides the airport’s only link to Asia.

With the removal of travel restrictions in the region, the airline reinstated its daily flight in March. The airport announced it had been eagerly awaiting the resumption of the daily service to Taiwan.

Elkadi added, “This exciting development is a testament to the demand for long-haul international travel from the Inland Empire and the exceptional service provided by our global gateway.”

The airline had operated to the airport since 2018 before suspending services in March 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 2021, the airline has gradually increased services until the recent announcement.

“Our airport continues to serve our partner airlines and customers well as demand for air travel increases, and Ontario prides itself on being as a premier gateway for Southern California,” Elkadi said.

By Jack K Byrne 4 Min Read
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