Air traffic down 85% at LAX as local airports face historic declines due to coronavirus

During the coronavirus epidemic, Seth Davis' support dog Poppy waits patiently in a quiet Los Angeles International Airport on Monday.
During the coronavirus epidemic, Seth Davis’ support dog Poppy waits patiently in a quiet Los Angeles International Airport on Monday.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Air traffic at Los Angeles International Airport and other local aviation facilities has taken a huge hit due to the coronavirus.

Sean Burton, president of the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners, said at a commission meeting Thursday that air passenger traffic is now down 85% nationally compared with a year ago. At LAX and Van Nuys, the effect is just as extreme, he said.

LAX air passenger traffic numbers are down 85%, concession revenues are down 50% and rental car transactions are down 80%, he said.


The currency exchange is down 70% and duty-free revenues are down 60%, he added.

“Clearly, the magnitude of what we are facing is immense,” Burton said.

He told the commissioners that “we must continue to seek out new solutions to address the financial impacts and reduce our expenses and operate more efficiently, while maintaining safety and security. In addition to the austerity measures already in place, our executive leadership team is looking at all existing contracts and identifying where there are opportunities to stop, reduce or defer activities. We’re also looking at all of our planned future capital projects to determine if now is the right time to start them, or if they can be deferred.”

Under the coronavirus relief bill, which is making its way through Congress, Burton said $10 billion in federal assistance would help publicly owned commercial airports like LAX, as well as general aviation airports like Van Nuys.

He said that money will be critical, as the “aviation sector grapples with the most steep and potentially sustained decline in air travel history.”