Bob Hope Airport's numbers hold steady

The number of passengers using the Bob Hope Airport in September remained flat compared to a year ago, stemming at least temporarily a downward spiral in traffic at the airfield for 2011, officials reported.

American Airlines and United are also canceling some flights because of corporate restructuring and rising costs, which could impact local passenger numbers in the future, airfield officials said.

The airport handled 360,321 passengers in September, compared to 360,538 the same period last year, according to the latest figures released to the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority on Monday.

It was the second consecutive month passenger numbers have beaten budget projections.

For the year, about 3.22 million passengers have used the airport since January, a 3.6% decline from the roughly 3.34 million people the airfield handled during the same time period in 2010.

Passenger numbers at other regional airports varied greatly. Ontario Airport reported a 5.1% decline, while John Wayne Airport in Orange County saw a 2.5% increase and Los Angeles International Airport reported a 6.1% spike.

But with American and United cutting flights, local passenger numbers may be hard to predict for awhile, officials said.

American is cutting one round-trip daily flight to Dallas-Fort Worth in conjunction with the company’s decision to reduce capacity nationwide by 3%.

The airline’s decision is cause for concern at Bob Hope since the daily flight had a high-occupancy rate.

American spokesman Ed Martelle said American has been trimming individual flights at various airports the past few months, primarily because of skyrocketing fuel costs, which were $654 million higher this year compared to 2010.

“It’s part of a system-wide capacity reduction rather than pulling out of markets, which we wouldn’t want to do anyway,” Martelle said.

United Express is eliminating two round-trip flights a week to its Denver hub and one Saturday round-trip flight to San Francisco. The cuts were the result of a 13% reduction in operations at the airline’s Denver hub following its merger with Continental.

Parking revenues at Bob Hope Airport were also relatively flat in September compared to last year, coming in at $1.66 million, officials reported.

Still, with the sting of August — when parking revenues took a 5.8% tumble — not leaving, the recent figures require closer scrutiny because they could indicate a trend, airport officials said.

Airport Executive Officer Dan Feger said one possibility might be that passengers are opting to self-park rather than pay more for valet parking.

He told the airport authority that officials will study the situation, and report back perhaps in a few months in case changes need to be made before drafting a budget for next fiscal year.

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