Airport numbers down again

BURBANK — A disappointing summer travel season combined with deflated corporate budgets continues to plague passenger numbers at Bob Hope Airport, which in August saw statistics drop 17.2% compared with the same period last year, according to figures released Monday.

Bob Hope Airport saw 83,624 fewer passengers in August compared with the same period last year, bringing the year-to-date total down 17.7% to roughly 3 million people, according to a report Oct. 5 to the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority.

August, which historically has been one of the airport's highest-performing months, served as a cruel reminder that a swift turnaround was unlikely, airport Commissioner Don Brown said, particularly as the authority braces for the holiday travel season.

“Now with the summer numbers in, we can see that it is dropping more than we anticipated,” he said. “And we don't see any improvement on the way.”

The last glimmer of optimism came in April, the first time in six months that the plunge remained below 20%, leading executives to speculate that business and leisure travel budgets were on the rebound.

Dan Feger, executive director of the Burbank-Glendale- Pasadena Airport Authority, pointed to August as rounding out a relatively flat summer, with passenger rates dropping about 16% on average.

“We're just reflecting the trend that's going on at every airport,” Commissioner Charles Lombardo said. “People just aren't traveling,”

Six percent fewer passengers in August traveled on U.S. airlines compared with the same month last year, while the average cost to fly dropped 17% year-over-year, according to Air Transport Assn. of America, a U.S. airline industry group

At Ontario International Airport, passenger counts plunged to 432,118 in August compared with 565,903 the previous year, a drop of more than 26%, airport records show.

Another problem for airports across the country is that business travelers may never return to the gates at the rates they once did, said Lombardo, citing the inception of virtual meetings and other technological improvements popularized in the economic downturn.

The gloom has affected future plans for capital improvements at the airport.

Despite September parking revenue projections that weren't as bad as expected, the authority has given Feger and his staff the OK to delay airport projects as they see fit.


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