Long Beach Airport sets monthly passenger record

City officials attributed the surge to an increase in flight slot usage from the airport's carriers.

Long Beach Airport sets monthly passenger record
A Southwest Airlines plane makes its final approach into Long Beach Airport Wednesday, April 24, 2024. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

More travelers passed through Long Beach Airport in March than any other month in its 100-year history, city officials announced Wednesday.

Last month, 182,382 passengers departed from the municipal airfield, breaking the previous record of 178,836 enplanements set in July 2018.

“We are thrilled to see continued growth in passenger traffic at Long Beach Airport,” airport Director Cynthia Guidry said in a statement. “The diversification of our route network, coupled with ongoing improvements in infrastructure and services has positioned LGB as a preferred choice for travelers seeking convenience, comfort and connectivity.”

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The record-setting figure marked a nearly 22% increase compared to March of last year, according to airport staff. The first quarter of 2024 overall saw an 18% increase from the same period last year.

City officials attributed surging passenger volumes to the increased use of the noise-controlled airport’s 58 flight slots. Southwest Airlines, the facility’s leading carrier, acquired 10 additional flight slots last year, bringing their total allotment to 50.

Since acquiring the slots, Southwest has gradually increased its daily flight schedule. Combined, Southwest, Delta Air Lines and Hawaiian Airlines have direct flights to 24 destinations — the most nonstop service in the airport’s history.

The recent milestone comes after a grueling recovery following the coronavirus pandemic, which saw passenger volumes out of Long Beach plummet to 11,566 travelers in May 2020. It took until April 2023 for the airport to reach pre-pandemic passenger volumes, city data shows.

Since the pandemic, the airport also has celebrated several major improvements, including the opening of its new ticketing lobby and baggage claim area. The historic terminal building, which is slated to become the car rental hub, is undergoing renovations and the roadwork improvements are underway.

These improvements are all meant to enhance the travel experience, according to the city.

“These record-breaking numbers are a testament to our 100-year-old airport’s ongoing commitment to providing world-class service to travelers who know LGB is the gateway of choice for Southern California,” Mayor Rex Richardson said in a statement. “LGB remains committed to serving the needs of travelers while driving economic growth and prosperity for the region.”