Passenger numbers dip at Bob Hope Airport

The number of passengers traveling through Bob Hope Airport slid again in June after slight increases in May and March, and the airfield is facing additional challenges as Southwest — its largest carrier — plans to cut five Saturday flights.

The airport handled 331,115 passengers in June, a 3.45% decrease compared to 342,944 in June 2012, according to statistics released by the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority on Monday.

Dan Feger, the airport's executive director, said the decline was disappointing after two slight increases, but it was somewhat expected.

"It was not what we had hoped because we had started to see a trend of increases. This is slightly below what we had built onto the budget in terms of passengers for June," he said. "It's a little bit surprising to us, but we probably shouldn't be surprised."

Feger said the decline was attributable partially to JetBlue's elimination of two daily daytime flights out of the airport in January, but also to an overall reduction in leisure travel.

"The summer months historically were when people did leisure travel, and I think that's the bigger victim here," he said. "In terms of people electing not to spend discretionary money on flying, they spend it on other things they have to spend their money on."

During the first six months of 2013, roughly 1.9 million passengers traveled through the airport, a 4.2% drop from roughly 2 million passengers during the same period last year.

Despite being one of two airlines to post an increased passenger count at the airport in June, Southwest is cutting one round-trip Saturday flight from each of its destinations, except Denver, starting on Aug. 11. U.S. Airways also reported additional passengers.

Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said in an email that the cuts were a standard practice to maximize revenue at airports, such as Bob Hope, that are used mostly by business travelers.

"For Saturday operations, Southwest will reduce flying in business markets and reallocate the aircraft elsewhere in our route network to take advantage of leisure passenger demand markets," he said.

Meanwhile, other airports in the region reported varying passenger totals in June. Los Angeles International Airport and John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana saw 6.5% and 3.4% increases, respectively. However, Ontario Airport reported an 8.5% decline, and Long Beach Airport saw a 9% drop.

Once again, a continued rise in parking revenues was a bright spot for Bob Hope Airport. Parking revenues increased by 4.5% in June, bringing in roughly $1.5 million, compared with $1.45 million in June 2012. The increase was attributable to recent rate hikes in the airport's parking lots, according to Feger.



Follow Daniel Siegal on Google+ and on Twitter: @Daniel_Siegal.


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