Freight shipments remained strong in first quarter of 2021
Ontario International Airport (ONT) has regained more than half of the passenger volume lost as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which nearly decimated global air travel a year ago, according to monthly data released by airport officials today.
The total number of passengers who traveled through ONT in March – nearly 260,000 – was 11% higher than the same month last year when governments closed borders to most international air travel and public health authorities issued stay-at-home orders, effectively shutting down airports. Many airports in the U.S. saw declines in passenger traffic of as much as 95% virtually overnight.
In recent months, reports have shown ONT with the strongest passenger recovery rate in California and one of the strongest nationwide. The March numbers released today underscored that trend, showing domestic passenger traffic up nearly 16% from March 2020 and improving to about 63% of its March 2019 pace. Overall passenger volume, including international travel, had improved to about 60% of its March 2019 pace – an encouraging sign that the recovery is underway.
“It is not surprising that passenger volume was higher in March this year than March last year, but in looking back to March 2019, the pre-pandemic year, we get a better measure of our recovery and see encouraging signs with more than half of our traveler volume back,” said Mark Thorpe, chief executive officer of the Ontario International Airport Authority. “Given the new and restarted services in recent months by airlines operating at Ontario and plans announced for the initiation of more flights coming by summer, we are confident that recovery is on the horizon, especially as more travelers receive vaccines and resume more normal travel routines.”
Air cargo shipments, on the other hand, continued their surge as many Americans transitioned to working from home and families increased their reliance on e-commerce for household goods and supplies. Commercial freight tonnage increased nearly 6% last month compared to March last year. For the first quarter of this year, freight volume increased by double-digits to 11.5%.