Fliers f lock to Long Beach

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS - By Hugo Martin hugo.martin@la­times.com Twit­ter: @hugo­martin

Passenger vol­ume at Long Beach Air­port soared in the first half of the year, up 46.5% from a year ear­lier.

A de­ci­sion by the city of Long Beach to open its air­port to new car­ri­ers and more f lights has paid off with a nearly 50% in­crease in passenger vol­ume over the last six months.

Dur­ing the first half of the year, Long Beach Air­port served nearly 1.3 mil­lion pas­sen­gers, a 46.5% jump from the same pe­riod in 2016, ac­cord­ing to the city of Long Beach.

By com­par­i­son, Los An­ge­les In­ter­na­tional Air­port served nearly 41 mil­lion pas­sen­gers in the first six months of the year, a 5% in­crease over the same pe­riod last year.

Long Beach Air­port’s growth is at­trib­uted mostly to the city’s de­ci­sion last year to add nine new daily de­par­tures and ar­rivals, bring­ing to 50 the to­tal daily flights al­lot­ted to large car­ri­ers at the 1,166-acre fa­cil­ity.

The new slots opened the door for South­west Air­lines, the na­tion’s largest do­mes­tic car­rier, to serve Long Beach for the first time and com­pete head-to-head with ri­val JetBlue Air­ways.

The in­crease has al­ready boosted rev­enue from park­ing and con­ces­sion op­er­a­tors at the air­port, air­port spokes­woman Stephanie Mon­tuya-Morisky said. “It’s bet­ter over­all fi­nan­cially,” she said, adding that the city’s fi­nan­cial re­port wouldn’t be re­leased for sev­eral months.

The de­ci­sion to add the nine slots riled some Long Beach res­i­dents wor­ried that the ex­tra flights would gen­er­ate more jet noise. But a city study found that the air­port could add the nine daily flights with­out vi­o­lat­ing an air­port noise limit that sets a thresh­old tied to the air­line noise gen­er­ated in 1989-90.

South­west Air­lines re­ceived four daily slots, with JetBlue get­ting three more slots and Delta Air Lines get­ting two.

South­west Air­lines be­gan serv­ing Long Beach Air­port in June of last year, han­dling 10,231 pas­sen­gers in that first month. In June of this year, South­west served 17,911 trav­el­ers, a 75% in­crease, ac­cord­ing to city data.

“We’ve worked week by week to add ad­di­tional flights uti­liz­ing un­used slots that make avail­able our low fares and ‘bags fly free’ to more peo­ple go­ing more places,” South­west Air­lines spokesman Dan Land­son said. Long Beach be­came the 10th Cal­i­for­nia air­port served by South­west Air­lines.

JetBlue, the big­gest car­rier at Long Beach Air­port, also has ex­pe­ri­enced higher passenger vol­ume, serv­ing 124,065 peo­ple in June, up 23% from the 101,270 pas­sen­gers han­dled a year ear­lier.

Nick Ut As­so­ci­ated Press

LONG BEACH AIR­PORT added nine daily de­par­tures and ar­rivals last year. It served 1.3 mil­lion pas­sen­gers in the first half of the year, a 46.5% jump from a year ear­lier. Above, pas­sen­gers ar­rive at the air­port in 2014.

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