A Southwest Airlines plane takes off from Long Beach Airport Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

More than 282,000 travelers passed through Long Beach Airport in May, up a staggering 2,344% from May 2020 and almost 47% from the same month last year, according to city data released this week.

Just two months into the pandemic, May 2020 saw traffic at the small municipal airport drop 96% compared to the same month the year before. The new data shows passenger volumes, which totaled 282,698 people, were just 7.4% below 2019 levels. That comparison is relatively unchanged from April, which was down 7.6% from 2019.

“For the third month in a row, we are over 90% of pre-pandemic levels, which marks a significant recovery in LGB’s passenger traffic,” airport Director Cynthia Guidry said in an email. “We expect this trend to continue and are looking forward to a strong summer travel season.”

Nationwide, air travel has not rebounded quite as much as it has in Long Beach. Last month, nearly 67.8 million people passed through U.S. airports, still down more than 10% from pre-pandemic levels, according to data from the Transportation Security Administration. In May 2019, over 74.7 million people used U.S. airports.

Due to concerns centered around the highly contagious omicron variant in January and February, however, year-to-date passenger volumes at Long Beach remain nearly 14% below pre-pandemic levels through May. But because 2021 began in the midst of the deadliest surge of COVID-19 to date, this year is tracking over 116% over last year, according to city data.

Total air cargo being processed at Long Beach Airport remains well below pre-pandemic levels due to the fact that the number of daily cargo planes remains cut in half. For years, the airport saw a daily cargo delivery from both UPS and FedEx. Late last year, however, FedEx gave up its slot.

Last month, the airport handled 1,084 tons of cargo, a 1.3% improvement from the same month last year. The figure remains nearly 42% below 2019 levels.

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