Photo by Roland Lizarondo
It’s starting to look a lot more like 2019 at San Diego Intl Airport these days.
Arrivals and departures are returning to their pre-pandemic levels. But California’s third-busiest airport has not escaped the darker days of the pandemic. A good way to look at this is to compare the numbers for April 2019 to those for April of last year.
âLast year, in April 2020, we were down 95%,â airport spokeswoman Sabrina LoPiccolo told KPBS.
We still haven’t got back to where we were before COVID hit, but LoPiccolo has said we’re getting there.
âCurrently we are down 38% if you look at the numbers for 2019,â LoPiccolo said.
Part of the ground lost during the pandemic is being made up by airlines adding new service to San Diego. Take Lightening Air for example.
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âWe started today in Bozeman, Montana. We know these will be people who will be living in Montana and looking forward to going to the beach in San Diego. And we also know that there will be residents of San Diego who have been locked in the pandemic who would love to visit national parks, âsaid Allegiant spokeswoman Hilarie Gray.
Allegiant will also launch nonstop service to Des Moines, Iowa, starting in July.
South West continues to be the dominant carrier in San Diego with the most flights. They’re launching a new non-stop service to Maui starting this weekend, and they’re adding another daily flight to Honolulu.
But Alaska Airlines now flies to most destinations of all airlines in San Diego. This includes the recent addition of JFK in New York.
âThere is a high demand both to San Diego and from San Diego, and we see an opening for a carrier like Alaska to make sure there is non-stop service to all places where people are coming from. want to come and go, âAlaska Airlines said. spokesperson Brett Catlin.
Like some of their competitors, Alaska has done something that may seem counterintuitive: They added routes during the pandemic. But Brett Catlin said Alaska is thinking about the long-term situation.
âThese may not be markets that generate profits immediately, but we see long term potential and this was a great time to invest and rethink how we want to serve the community,â said Catlin.
It’s to think like that, it’s very reassuring for the people who run this airport, an airport which anticipates the start of the construction of a big project next year: the replacement of the aging terminal.
âWe plan to eventually hit the pre-pandemic numbers and even more passengers than that, so it’s really planning for the future,â LoPiccolo said.
A future which, despite its space constraints and its unique track, seems to be a beacon of hope for the post-pandemic of San Diego.
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