A passenger plane comes in for a landing at Long Beach Airport Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

After months of inching closer to pre-pandemic levels, passenger volumes at Long Beach Airport slipped slightly in November, according to data released Thursday.

During the month, which marks the beginning of the busy holiday travel season, 287,558 people passed through the municipal airport, up 14.8% from the same month last year but down 6.8% from November 2019. The figure marks a significant 412% increase from November 2020, when only 56,143 travelers were served as the coronavirus began its first winter surge.

Nationwide, total passenger volumes remained down 5.7% in November compared to the same month in 2019, according to Transportation Security Administration data. Across the U.S., nearly 64.4 million travelers passed through TSA checkpoints compared to nearly 68.3 million before the pandemic.

Back in Long Beach, the airport served just shy of 3 million passengers through the end of November, which is 8.2% lower than in November 2019.

December figures have not been released, and while airport staff expected strong holiday travel around the Christmas holiday, winter storms and the Southwest Airlines’ meltdown caused over 160 flights to be canceled late in the month.

The facility lost an estimated $500,000 due to the mass cancellations.

“As we continue on the road to recovery, we are excited about our passengers taking full advantage of all the new nonstop destinations, providing additional options to meet their travel needs,” Airport Director Cynthia Guidry. “2023 looks promising.”

On Jan. 8, Southwest began weekly nonstop flights to New Orleans that depart Long Beach every Sunday through at least July. The week before, the airline began daily nonstop service to Salt Lake City.

American Airlines to depart Long Beach Airport permanently next month

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