The Breakdown | Explaining Southern California's economy
Business & Economy

LAX, Ontario, John Wayne airports see passenger numbers grow

Photo by brendangates via Flickr Creative Commons

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Passenger counts have grown this year at three Southern California airports, with the big one - LAX - on pace to climb out of a slump that's lasted over a decade.  Here's a look at the numbers.

Los Angeles International Airport

In November, 5.4 million passengers moved through LAX, a 6.4 percent increase over November of last year. The January through November total for LAX is 64.7 million passengers. Officials forecasted that nearly three million travelers would pass through during the holiday travel period.  

That would add more than enough to top the total of 66.6 million passengers for all of 2013 .

The last time LAX saw numbers like that was in 2000, when the airport hosted 67.3 million passengers.  The attacks of 9/11 knocked the numbers down in the next two years. The outbreak of SARS in 2003 kept those figures low. The numbers began to climb again in 2004, but the recession caused another drop in 2008.   

Brett Snyder, founder and author of the Cranky Flier air travel blog, says part of this year's passenger increase is because two major domestic airlines have focused on the airport as key to their business strategies. 

"Delta started this a couple of years ago, building up their schedules, and more recently, American has made more of a push as well," says Snyder.

On the international front, Snyder says carriers have either launched or added service at LAX, or increased the size the airplanes they use. Etihad Airways introduced service to Abu Dhabi. Cathay Pacific, Transaero, Aeroflot, and Korean Air added service as well.  

"There's a strong demand from a lot of different places," Snyder says. "On top of that, you have Delta and American jockeying for position at an airport that nobody dominates."

John Wayne Airport

The airport in Santa Ana has been adding passengers as well, though not at the level as LAX or Ontario. It saw a 3.8 percent increase last month over November of last year.  

Between January and November 2014, John Wayne served 1.8 percent more passengers than it did for the same period the year before. 

Ontario International Airport

Ontario also saw a similar jump in the number of passengers that passed through — about 3.4 percent between this and last November.

Over the year, the numbers were slightly stronger, with nearly 3.8 million passengers using Ontario from January through November 2014, an increase of 4 percent over last year.

International passengers are the main source of the increase. Ontario saw a 60 percent increase in international passengers so far this year. 

In April, Volaris airlines began service to Guadalajara, becoming the first new airline at Ontario since 2007.