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Travel & Tourism

COVID-19 surge led to slightly lower passenger traffic through Ontario International Airport in November

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Total traveler volume at ONT was more than 212,000 in November; Run of double-digit increases in air cargo continued

Dec. 15, 2020 — The surge in COVID-19 cases across the U.S. and public health guidance to avoid travel during the holiday season led to a slight decrease in passenger volume at Ontario International Airport (ONT) in November, interrupting a six-month trend of passenger increases, airport officials announced today.  At the same time, however, air freight shipments continued to grow at a double-digit pace.

“As the pandemic surges through all regions of California, we are reminded daily of the impact of COVID-19 on global air travel,” said Mark Thorpe, chief executive officer of the Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA). “We remain hopeful that new routes announced for early 2021 and the distribution of coronavirus vaccines will lead to a robust recovery in the year ahead.”

Total traveler volume was more than 212,000 in November, approximately 5,000 fewer than October after sixth straight months of increasing passenger volumes. The passenger number was 57% lower than the same month last year.

Domestic passenger volume was 205,000 last month, a decrease of 56% compared to November 2019. On a brighter note, the number of international travelers rose from 4,000 in October to more than 7,000, still 72.5% lower than November last year.

From January through November, more than 2.3 million passengers traveled through ONT, 53.7% fewer than the same period in 2019. Of those more than 2.2 million were domestic passengers with 87,000 who were international air travelers, decreases of 52% and 68%, respectively.

PassengerTotalsNovember2020November2019% ChangeYTD2020YTD2019% Change
Domestic205,526475,453-56.77%2,260,2634,794,636-52.9%
International7,20026,186-72.50%87,685274,307-68.0%
Total212,726501,639-57.59%2,347,9485,068,943-53.7%

Hawaiian Airlines announced recently that it will begin service between ONT and Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport with five flights a week starting in March. Denver-based Frontier Airlines is also planning the addition of new flights and resumption of flights suspended during the pandemic between February and May in 2021.

As for cargo shipments, which remained strong through November, air freight volume exceeded 73,000 tons, 10.3% more than November last year. On a year-to-date basis, freight shipments totaled more than 804,000 tons, almost 20% more than the same period a year ago.

Mail shipments grew more than 150% to 3,300 tons last month from 1,300 tons in November 2019.

Air cargo(tonnage)November2020November2019% ChangeYTD2020YTD2019% Change
Freight73,20766,31910.39%804,566671,81719.8%
Mail3,3791,338152.47%21,97321,1164.1%
Total76,58667,65713.20%826,539692,93319.3%

“Commercial freight continues to be Ontario’s lifeblood,” Thorpe said. “Air cargo carriers are showing their confidence by expanding and modernizing facilities as the region’s reliance on e-commerce grows month after month, investments which will serve the Inland Empire well for years to come.”

The Inland Empire Business Journal (IEBJ) is the official business news publication of Southern California’s Inland Empire region - covering San Bernardino & Riverside Counties.

Economy

Economic impact of Ontario International Airport is felt across the region, new study shows

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Economic impact report was released during State of the Airport event, celebrating ONT’s sixth anniversary under local ownership; Southern California’s Ontario International Airport has a regional economic impact of $3.8 billion.

Ontario International Airport (ONT) is an economic engine for Southern California, generating $3.8 billion a year in activity, supporting 27,800 jobs and serving as the hub of a global logistics network that produces $17.8 billion in economic output, a new study shows.

The analysis, by Oxford Economics, was released Tuesday as more than 300 Inland Empire officials, industry executives and friends of ONT celebrated the aviation gateway’s sixth anniversary under local ownership. The State of the Airport event showcased Ontario’s impressive expansion of flights, destinations and customer amenities over the past six years, its emergence as one of the Top 10 cargo airports in North America and its role as an economic driver across the IE and Southern California.

“As we believed on this day six years ago, Ontario International is more than an airport. It is the heart of one of the fastest-growing population and economic centers in the U.S., providing a foundation for solid economic growth for years to come. And it is the public treasure we envisioned for the City of Ontario and San Bernardino County,” said Alan D. Wapner, President of the Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA) Board of Commissioners and Mayor pro Tem of the City of Ontario.

The Oxford Economics study incorporated nearly a year’s worth of research, concluding that the overall impact of economic activity at ONT – from airport operations, airlines and their suppliers, government workers, airport concessions and logistics companies – totals $3.8 billion as of 2022. This includes $2.7 billion in visitor spending, Oxford reported.

Ontario International Airport plays an integral role in the economy of the Southern California region, specifically in and around the Inland Empire,” the report stated, adding that ONT’s economic impact includes $2.2 billion in regional gross domestic product (GDP), which supports 27,800 jobs and results in $571 million a year in local, state and federal taxes.

Oxford also looked at ONT’s role a supply chain hub, analyzing logistics activity in the eight zip codes adjacent to the airport. The results placed Ontario International at the center of a global network that accounts for $17.8 billion in economic output, $9.9 billion of GDP, 122,200 jobs and $2.3 billion in local, state and federal taxes.

“The economic impact of Ontario International Airport is felt across the region and around the world. We’re excited to be able to share our story with the communities and shareholders we serve, and look forward to building on our position as the gateway of choice for millions of Southern Californians,” said OIAA CEO Atif Elkadi.

Since ONT’s return to local ownership on November 1, 2016, passenger volumes have increased by nearly 33%, despite the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on global air travel. This year’s passenger totals are expected to reach 5.8 million, the highest level since 2008. Ontario’s 11 domestic and international airlines in November 2022 offer 479 weekly departures and more than 75,000 airline seats to more than two dozen popular nonstop destinations. That’s an increase of 18.9% in departures and 43.4% in seats since 2016.

In recent years, ONT’s cargo facilities have experienced double-digit increases in commercial freight shipments as demand for consumer goods, household supplies and other daily necessities skyrocketed among consumers. Shipments of commercial freight and mail total approximately 75 tons a month, 57% more than 2016.

“The Inland Empire is home to one of the most important supply chain networks in the world, and Ontario International is at the heart of that,” said Curt Hagman, OIAA Commissioner and Chair of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors.

The State of the Airport event also featured an engaging fireside chat with Barry L. Biffle, chief executive officer of Frontier Airlines, a five-year ONT tenant which operates 45 flights a week to six U.S. destinations. The discussion was led by award-winning author Scott McCartney, Travel Editor Emeritus of The Wall Street Journal and writer of the Journal’s popular “Middle Seat” column which was a must-read for travel enthusiasts for two decades.

McCartney and Biffle discussed the airline industry’s pandemic recovery, the future of global air travel and the Frontier’s plans for air travel from ONT.

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Travel & Tourism

Ontario International Airport passenger volumes continued to soar in September, exceeding pre-pandemic levels by 10%

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More than 500,000 travelers flew into or out of ONT for a 5th straight month

Southern California’s Ontario International Airport (ONT) surpassed pre-pandemic levels for the seventh straight month in September as passenger volumes continued to climb to levels not seen since 2007, airport officials announced.

Nearly 517,000 air travelers flew into or out of ONT during the month, 10.15% more than the same month in 2019. It marked the fifth consecutive month in which passenger volumes exceeded a half million, and moved Ontario closer to a possible 6 million passengers by year’s end. The September total also represented a 6,000-passenger increase over August – typically a peak month for air travel.

“Ontario International continues to prove itself as the airport of choice for millions of Southern Californians. The double-digit increase in passenger volume last month reinforces the important role we play in meeting the air travel needs of one of the most robust population and economic centers in the country,” said Alan D. Wapner, president of the Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA) Board of Commissioners and Mayor pro Tem of City of Ontario.

Through the first nine months of the year, ONT welcomed 4.2 million passengers – 3.6% more than the same period in 2019 and 37.6% above last year. At this pace, the airport should well exceed the 5.6 million passengers who flew into or out of ONT in 2019 – the last full year before the pandemic. According to Ontario’s seat capacity projections for the next six months, nonstop flights are expected to increase by 1.6% over the October 2019-March 2020 time period, nonstop seat capacity is projected to rise by 7.9%, and available seat miles (ASMs) are projected to increase by 11.4%.

This continues an impressive trend that began with the airport’s return to local ownership in 2016. During those first three years – before COVID-19 disrupted air travel globally – ONT experienced a nearly 33% increase in passenger volumes.

“We’ve been able to pick up where we left off before the pandemic, increasing flights and destinations and providing travelers with amenities and a customer experience they won’t get anywhere else,” said Atif Elkadi, OIAA CEO.

Passenger

Totals

Sep

2022

Sep

2019

Change

YTD

2022

YTD

2019

Change

Domestic

502,540

446,169

12.63 %

4,072,713

3,838,865

6.1 %

International

14,405

23,155

-37.79 %

136,803

223,889

-38.9 %

Total

516,945

469,324

10.15 %

4,209,516

4,062,754

3.6 %

Passenger

Totals

Sep

2022

Sep

2021

Change

YTD

2022

YTD

2021

Change

Domestic

502,540

440,947

13.97 %

4,072,713

2,980,026

36.7 %

International

14,405

12,227

17.81 %

136,803

79,186

72.8 %

Total

516,945

453,174

14.07 %

4,209,516

3,059,212

37.6 %

The September numbers also underscored Ontario’s role as a global logistics hub. Shipments of air cargo totaled more than 70,000 tons during the month, 14.4% higher than the same month in 2019. Last month’s tonnage was essentially flat when compared with September a year ago.

For the first nine months of the year, air cargo volume was more than 618,000 tons, 11% more than the same period in 2019.

Air cargo

(tonnage)

Sep

2022

Sep

2019

Change

YTD

2022

YTD

2019

Change

Freight

65,831

59,918

9.87 %

577,554

539,062

7.1 %

Mail

4,196

1,271

230.12 %

41,059

18,221

125.3 %

Total

70,027

61,189

14.44 %

618,613

557,283

11.0 %

Air cargo

(tonnage)

Sep

2022

Sep

2021

Change

YTD

2022

YTD

2021

Change

Freight

65,831

66,380

-0.83 %

577,554

609,952

-5.3 %

Mail

4,196

4,269

-1.71 %

41,059

34,426

19.3 %

Total

70,027

70,649

-0.88 %

618,613

644,378

-4.0 %

“Ontario International cargo shipments showed strong growth in September and on a year-to-date basis compared with 2019 as our shipping partners continued to show confidence in our airport as a commercial hub for Southern California,” said Ron Loveridge, vice president of the OIAA board.

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Transportation

SMART Airports Conference to bring airport leaders and innovators from around the world to Ontario, California

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Ontario International Airport and Southern California’s dynamic Inland Empire will be on the global stage next week as aviation leaders from around the world gather for the 2022 SMART Airports & Regions Conference.

Ontario International Airport (ONT) and Southern California’s dynamic Inland Empire will be on the global stage next week as aviation leaders from around the world gather for the 2022 SMART Airports & Regions Conference – one of the aviation industry’s largest and most prestigious annual events.

The three-day conference opens Monday, July 18, at the Ontario Convention Center, and will focus on topics ranging from how aviation can inspire new economic opportunities in a post-pandemic world to the role of airports as incubators for innovation in urban development and regional connectivity.

Ontario and the Inland Empire are an ideal location for this global gathering. We have one of the fastest-growing airports in the world, in the heart of one of the most robust population and economic centers in the U.S. And when it comes to innovative multimodal transportation solutions, no region can match what’s being done here to redefine mobility and access while creating new economic development opportunities,” said Alan D. Wapner, President of the Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA) and Mayor pro Tem of the City of Ontario.

The SMART Airport & Regions Conference is being co-hosted by ONT and the Greater Ontario Convention & Visitors Bureau (GOCVB). Among the more than 50 speakers and presenters will be several leaders from the two organizations, including Wapner, OIAA Commissioners Ron Loveridge and Curt Hagman, the airport’s Chief Executive Officer Atif Elkadi, Chief Capital Development Officer Michelle Brantley and Chief Commercial Officer Dan Cappell, and GOCVB President and CEO Michael Krouse.

The event comes as ONT is in the midst of a historic run that has seen travel volumes exceed pre-pandemic levels for three months in a row, including, in May, the highest number of passengers since the airport’s return to local ownership in 2016. For the past four years, ONT has been recognized by Global Traveler as the fastest-growing airport in the United States, and its role as an economic driver and preferred aviation gateway for millions of Southern Californians is helping to drive significant transit investments across the region. Upcoming projects include zero-emission bus-rapid transit, hydrogen-powered passenger rail and an all-electric-vehicle tunnel from a planned state-of-the-art multimodal transit center.

In addition, ONT plays a critical role in the Inland Empire’s emergence as a global goods movement hub, and today ranks among the Top 10 cargo airports in North America.

“We have a great story to tell – here at ONT and across this great region we serve. The Inland Empire is now the 12th largest – and fifth fastest-growing – metropolitan area in the U.S., with a quality of life that is unmatched. We’ve prepared ourselves to meet those growth needs, while preserving the convenience and positive customer experience that have become our hallmark,” said Elkadi, ONT’s CEO.

“We are thrilled to host this event at Ontario Convention Center and to expose the world-wide attendees to the heart of Southern California’s Inland Experience! Our Convention & Visitors Bureau is here to welcome our visitors and provide information on the amenities and destinations in our region,” said Krouse, GOCVB’s President & CEO.

While the SMART Airports & Regions Conference officially opens on Monday, programs and presentations begin Tuesday. A complete agenda is available here.

 

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