Numbers at Bob Hope Airport slide again

Bob Hope Airport officials are dealing with a double dose of bad news this week as the number of passengers using the airport slid by more than 8% in July and the airport's largest carrier announced that it will cut more than 40 flights a week at the Burbank airfield.

The airport handled 318,859 passengers in July, an 8.24% decrease compared to 347,501 in July 2012, according to statistics released by the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority on Tuesday.

The drop continues a summertime slump, with a decline of roughly 3.5% in June. That was preceded by slight increases in May and March.

As the passenger numbers take a dive, the airport's largest carrier — Southwest Airlines — recently told airfield officials it will discontinue 42 round-trip flights weekly from Burbank at the end of the month.

All destinations will be affected, according to an airport staff report.

Southwest representatives could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Deputy Executive Director Denis Carvill said Southwest is reducing its number of flights at Burbank as part of a fleet reorganization following its merger with AirTran.

Southwest is flying planes with slightly more seats at Bob Hope now and it's working to increase its flights from being 60% full to around 75%, Carvill said, adding that most airlines strive to fly at 80% capacity.

"It's not a good-news report," Carvill said. "Southwest is confident their schedule will bring in the same number of passengers.... We lose landing fees, that's the impact."

Dan Feger, the airport's executive director, said on Tuesday the passenger decline was due in large part to the continued negative impact the sluggish economy has had on leisure travel nationwide.

"There were several factors as to why July was such a poor month, and the biggest factor was probably the economy," he said.

John Hatanaka, the airport's senior deputy executive director, said the July decline is also due in part to the loss of JetBlue daytime flights and an overall drop in Southwest passengers across the country.

Hatanaka said the airport was also hurt by flights that were canceled and delayed in the wake of the Asiana Airlines crash, and subsequent flight restrictions, at San Francisco International.

Following the crash, United Airlines canceled 12 flights to San Francisco, and 50 flights on the route were deemed "excessively late," according to Hatanaka.

"When it's that late, that's when people start canceling their flights," he said.

During the first seven months of 2013, roughly 2.2 million passengers traveled through Bob Hope Airport, a 4.8% drop from roughly 2.35 million passengers during the same period last year.

Meanwhile, other airports in the region reported a mixed bag of passenger totals in June. Los Angeles International Airport and John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana saw 4.5% and 2.2% increases, respectively. However, Ontario Airport reported a 12% decline and Long Beach Airport saw a 3% drop.

In addition, after several months of significant increases, parking revenues lagged at Bob Hope in July. Parking revenues increased by almost 0.1% in July, bringing in roughly $1.41 million, compared with $1.39 million in July 2012.

Despite the increase, the parking revenues were below what airport officials budgeted for the month — $1.5 million — and follow several months of increases of 4% or higher stemming from recent rate hikes in the airport's parking lots.


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


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