A man waits for his luggage at Long Beach Airport’s baggage claim area, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

More than 180,000 passengers traveled through Long Beach Airport in January, up over 344% compared to the same month last year, officials announced Wednesday.

In January 2021, only 41,254 people utilized the municipal facility, but that number jumped to 183,244 this year, according to airport data. However, passenger traffic remains more than 36% below January 2020, when over 288,000 people passed through the airport.

“We continued to see steady commercial airline passenger numbers in January, as we weathered the challenges created by the pandemic,” Airport Director Cynthia Guidry said in an email to the Business Journal.

Long Beach is trailing slightly behind the air travel rebound nationwide, according to data from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. In January, more than 46 million passengers traveled through U.S. airports, about 25% fewer than the more than 61.67 million during the same month in 2020, before the pandemic began.

The national figure marks a more than 96% increase from January 2021, when just over 23.4 million people used airports across the country.

Air travel continued to bounce back in February nationwide, when more than 48.5 million people passed through U.S. airports—only 19.7% down from February 2020, just before the pandemic all but halted flights. Long Beach officials are hopeful the trend will continue locally.

“We look forward to a boost this spring, when we welcome travelers who make Long Beach Airport their airport of choice,” Guidry said.

An increased number of passengers will be a welcome sight at the airport, which is expected to open its new ticketing lobby in the spring, according to airport officials. The new building is part of the multimillion-dollar Phase II renovation project that also includes a new baggage claim area, car rental facility and more.

Total air cargo at Long Beach Airport increased year-over-year to 1,262 tons in January 2022, compared to 991 tons in the same month last year.