LAX sees decline in passengers amid coronavirus, vows more aggressive cleaning

A jet takes off at Los Angeles International Airport.
(Los Angeles Times)

As cases of COVID-19 spike in the United States, Los Angeles International Airport is being cleaned more deeply and more regularly in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, officials said Friday.

Officials also said there has been a 5% drop in airline seats in and out of LAX in March and that safety officer screened 20% fewer passengers Thursday compared with the same day last year.

Crews are regularly deep-cleaning hand rails, escalators, elevator buttons, bathroom doors and other areas of the airport that get touched by lots of hands, officials said.

Touchscreens and kiosks in the customs area are being sanitized hourly, as are terminal bathrooms. “We are doing everything in our power to make sure the environment at LAX is as safe and clean as possible,” said Justin Erbacci, the interim chief executive at Los Angeles World Airports, the city agency that runs LAX.


Experts say the best defense against the coronavirus is to avoid touching your face, to avoid contact with sick people, and to wash your hands regularly with hot water and soap, scrubbing for 20 seconds. When hand-washing isn’t an option, experts recommend using hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of at least 60%.

LAX has installed 250 hand-sanitizer stations in the terminals and has 300 more arriving soon, officials said. Sanitizer has also been handed out to all airport employees, including the handlers who walk therapy dogs through the terminals. As travelers cancel business travel, vacations and trips to conferences, flight volumes at LAX have fallen.

Less travel could mean less revenue for the airport, but the full impact has yet to be determined, officials said, adding they are “planning ahead internally to reduce expenses."That includes limiting overtime, deferring trips to conferences and other discretionary spending, and a hiring freeze on all open jobs that are not considered critical, officials said.

On Friday, a second LAX worker tested positive for coronavirus, officials said Friday.