Ontario International Airport exceeds pre-pandemic activity

Ontario International Airport in southern California hit pre-pandemic passenger numbers in March. Airport officials had long expected the month to top 2019 numbers, and March 2021 saw a 4% increase over March 2019.

Busier days ahead

As health restrictions ease and travel continues to rebound around the world, it’s becoming normal to see airport headlines approaching and even surpassing 2019 passenger numbers.

ONT handled a total of 454,000 passengers through its airport in March. Of the 454,000, 439,531 were domestic passengers and international passengers totaled around 15,000, an increase of 71% and 446% from March last year. The number of goods also increased in March compared to 2019, increasing by 22%.

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“The March passenger numbers are a tremendous achievement for our airport and airline partners, launching Ontario International’s pandemic recovery to an even higher level. We can’t say for sure what the coming months will bring, but March’s passenger numbers show what a full recovery looks like.” – Atif Elkadi, CEO of the Ontario International Airport Authority ( OIAA)


MD11 inverter at DFW

ONT sees a lot of cargo operations, with UPS, Amazon, FedEx and Atlas Air all operating flights at the airport. Photo: Lukas Souza | single flight

Ontario International Airport is located in the Inland Empire in Southern California. A major factor driving the airport’s growth is the increase in the number of residents moving to the Inland Empire, many of whom come from Los Angeles and Orange counties. High quality of life, housing and job opportunities draw residents to areas surrounding the ONT and have resulted in San Bernardino and Riverside counties experiencing the fifth largest population gain among the top 50 regions metropolitan areas of the United States.

About ONT

According to Global Traveler, Ontario International Airport is the fastest growing airport in the United States. In December 2021, the airport experienced the fastest growth for the fourth consecutive year. Located approximately 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, ONT is one of the region’s four alternate airports to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The Los Angeles metropolitan area has a total of five airports that serve commercial airlines, Los Angeles International Airport, Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR), Long Beach Airport (LGB), John Wayne Santa Ana (SNA) and Ontario International Airport (ONT).



China Airlines Airbus A350 LAX

China Eastern operates Ontario’s only passenger flights outside of the Americas. Photo: Lukas Souza | single flight

Prior to the pandemic, ONT offered passengers nonstop flights to 26 major airports in the United States, Mexico, Central America and Taiwan. From this list, one destination in particular stands out like a sore thumb, Taiwan. The Los Angeles area already has LAX, which has flights to Taiwan, so it’s very spotty for ONT to have a flight to such a high-profile destination. Before the pandemic, China Airlines operated daily flights from Taiwan to Ontario. As of August last year, the airline was only operating two flights a month to ONT due to COVID travel restrictions. But as restrictions continue to ease, China Airlines hopes to resume service to the Los Angeles alternative in San Bernardino County.

As operational costs continue to rise at LAX, airlines are looking for alternative options in the Los Angeles area. Ontario is quickly emerging as an excellent alternative. It has already attracted Frontier Airlines, which announced last year that it would suspend operations at LAX due to rising operational costs. In recent years, ONT has reduced operating costs, which has attracted airlines to Inland Empire Airport.

Simple Flying has contacted the ONT airport and will update the story if any comment is received.

Source: world traveler


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