A Southwest plane lands at Long Beach Airport. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

The number of passengers traveling through Long Beach Airport continued to rebound in March, spurred by spring vacationers, airport officials announced this week.

A total of 270,210 people passed through the airport last month, an increase of over 135% compared to the same month last year, according to airport data.

“Commercial passenger” numbers, the airport’s director Cynthia Guidry said in an email, “surpassed the previous month and doubled the number of March 2020.”

March 2020, of course, is when air travel came to a halt at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re pleased to see spring travelers enjoying our easygoing, convenient travel experience and making LGB their airport of choice,” Guidry added.

Passenger volumes, however, continue to trail behind pre-pandemic levels by about 6.7%. In March 2019, 289,791 people traveled through the small municipal airport. That figure itself also signifies a 19% decrease compared to March 2018, airport data shows.

Long Beach’s recovery is faring better than national air travel overall, according to data from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. Last month, 63.6 million people traveled through U.S. airports, a 65% increase from last year and a 105% increase from 2020.

U.S. travel, however, continues to trail behind March 2019 figures by 12.4%, data shows.

Back in Long Beach, a total of 1,301 tons of cargo were handled at the airport, up nearly 26% from the same month last year but down 5.2% from 2020. Total air cargo tonnage remains nearly 28% below pre-pandemic levels, which is not surprising considering FedEx’s recent surrender of its daily flight slot after more than 30 years of operating at the facility.

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