Despite the staggering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global aviation, Ontario International Airport (ONT) looks forward to maintaining its position as a leading cargo hub and welcoming back air travelers in greater numbers in 2021.
Two weeks into the New Year, airport officials announced final statistics for 2020, with cargo volumes growing more than 18 percent year-over-year, while the number of passengers who traveled through ONT was down more than 50 percent.
For the year, ONT processed nearly 900,000 tons of commercial freight, 18.2% higher than the previous year. Freight shipments increased by double-digits in 10 months in 2020 and by more than 20% in six months. Mail shipments increased almost 17% to more than 25,000 tons last year.
In December, freight tonnage totaled more than 93,000 tons, 6 percent higher than the same month in 2019, while shipments of mail grew 340 percent to more than 3,600 tons.
“Ontario solidified its position as a leading air cargo hub in 2020,” said Mark Thorpe, chief executive officer of the Ontario International Airport Authority. “Working closely with our freight partners, we not only withstood the surge in e-commerce shipments early in the year, we ramped up quickly to manage double-digit increases in commercial freight volume as Californians hunkered down at home and shopped online for vital household supplies.”
----- AS FOR PASSENGER TRAVEL, more than 2.5 million air travelers moved through ONT last year, roughly half as many as 2019. Domestic passengers totaled more than 2.4 million while the number of international travelers exceeded 95,000, decreases of 53 percent and 68 percent, respectively.
In December, as public health officials urged Americans to avoid non-essential travel, passenger volume declined nearly 63 percent to 190,000. Domestic travelers numbered more than 182,000 and international passengers 7,000, decreases of 62 percent and 73 percent, respectively.
Even with the decline, ONT fared significantly better than most airports in California and across the world. Recent projections show air passenger volumes globally fell at least 60 percent in 2020 as a result of the pandemic.
“Despite the challenging passenger numbers for 2020, several airline partners restarted service to popular destinations in the second half of the year and announced additional routes for the first half of 2021,” Thorpe said. “We stand ready to support airlines operating at Ontario and we are eager to welcome back our customers as coronavirus vaccines become more widely available and travel routines return to more normal levels.”