Passengers board a Southwest Airlines plane at Long Beach Airport, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

An increased number of flights by the largest air carrier gave a boost to passenger traffic at Long Beach Airport in October after months of lagging recovery, airport officials said Wednesday.

“This is the strongest recovery we’ve seen in our passenger numbers since the onset of the pandemic,” airport Director Cynthia Guidry said in an email.

Last month saw 220,293 passenger travelers pass through the municipal airport, a more than 280% increase over the same month last year. The October passenger volume remains nearly 28% below pre-pandemic levels, which is the closest to normal levels the airport has seen since the onset of the pandemic.

In September, 181,560 passengers traveled through the airport, which was more than 37% below pre-pandemic levels.

Upon releasing September data, airport officials said they expected an increase in activity during the holidays, including more daily flights.

“Southwest Airlines increased their flight service starting in October and then again in early November,” Guidry said Wednesday, “so we are really excited about a nice boost over the coming months from the additional flights and the busy holiday season.”

Passenger traffic bottomed out early in the pandemic as flights around the world were grounded. In Long Beach, April 2020 volumes plummeted to 98% below normal levels.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the comparison of this October’s passenger volume against last October’s.