After a turbulent three years, Long Beach Airport reported passenger volumes above pre-pandemic levels for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak, according to data released Monday.

In March, 296,663 passengers traveled through the small, municipal airport—up 2.3% from the same month in 2019. In March 2020, the coronavirus effectively shut down airports nationwide, which have struggled to recover since.

Last month’s figure marks increases of 120.6% and 158.3% over March 2020 and 2021, respectively. The volume is 8.8% over March of last year.

“Long Beach Airport continues to see signs of recovery and strong travel demand as passenger numbers trend upward,” Airport Director Cynthia Guidry said in a statement. “We’re pleased travelers make LGB their airport of choice.”

Passenger volumes nationwide, meanwhile, remained nearly 2.2% below 2019 levels in March, according to U.S. Transportation Security Administration data.

Back in Long Beach, the airport continues tracking ahead of last year in terms of passenger volumes for the second month in a row. During the first quarter, 814,328 travelers passed through the facility, a 1.1% increase from the same period in 2019.

The figures are a big boost for the facility, especially after closing out the year with a Southwest Airlines meltdown that caused passenger volumes to dip sharply. In the fallout, January traffic fell 1.8% short of January 2022 levels.

The data shows that more passengers flew out of Long Beach than flew into it last month. A total of 148,648 passengers boarded a plane in the city, compared to the 148,015 who landed here. Year-to-date, however, more people have arrived (405,555) in Long Beach than flown out of it (406,773).

Despite its major issues at the end of last year as well as its recent, but brief, nationwide grounding, Southwest is leading the charge in LGB’s recovery. The airline is the leading carrier at the airfield, holding 45 of 53 daily flight slots. As it continues to pick up additional slots, Southwest announced new destinations.

Since June of last year, the company has announced nonstop routes to Nashville, New Orleans, Salt Lake City, Orlando, and Kansas City, all of which are now in service. This summer, the airline will begin flights to Colorado Springs, El Paso and Albuquerque.

And last month, Southwest announced its most recent additions: The airline will offer weekly flights to Portland and Boise beginning this fall.

Between Southwest, Delta Air Lines and Hawaiian Airlines, travelers can reach 24 destination with nonstop service out of Long Beach—more than at any time in the airport’s nearly 100-year history.

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Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal.