Far fewer travelers passed through Long Beach Airport in December than during the same month in 2019, according to city data released Tuesday. The final month of last year even failed to outperform December 2021—by nearly 17,000 passengers.
Usually bustling with holiday travelers, airports experienced a different kind of chaos to close out 2022 when Southwest canceled nearly 20,000 flights nationwide. In Long Beach, the cancellations cost the facility an estimated $500,000.
“There are so many factors that go into these monthly passenger numbers, but the cancellation of 166 outbound flights over a 10-day period was the biggest factor in the dip for December,” LGB spokesperson Kate Kuykendall said in an email to the Business Journal on Tuesday.
A total of 247,285 passengers traveled through the local airport, down a staggering 23% from the 321,686 passengers in December 2019. The 2022 figure was down 5.1% from December 2021, when travel was quelled slightly by a surge in coronavirus cases.
December passenger volumes nationwide, meanwhile, were 7.2% below pre-pandemic levels, according to U.S. Transportation Security Administration data. About 65.7 million passengers traveled through U.S. airports, compared to nearly 70.4 million during the same month in 2019. Compared to 2021, U.S. air travel was down 10% in December.
Back in Long Beach, the airport’s total passenger numbers for 2022 as a whole were much higher than the year prior, though they were still below 2019 levels. A total of 3,242,831 passengers traveled through the airport last year, up 54.1% from 2021, data shows. The yearly total, however, remained 9.5% below 2019 levels.
“Although passenger travel was unexpectedly impacted in December, we are on track for a stronger performance in the months ahead,” Airport Director Cynthia Guidry said in an emailed statement.