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Airport passenger numbers down

Official tally isn’t in yet, but authority says Bob Hope could have a 10% drop from 2007.

January 05, 2009|By Jeremy Oberstein and The Leader

BURBANK — A sharp decrease in passengers in November and a decline in the number of Bob Hope Airport travelers during the December holidays marked another downturn for Burbank’s airfield, according to the latest figures.

But officials with the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority hope the worst is behind them as they look to study the effects of its passenger drop-off.

The airport recorded 107,713 fewer passengers in November compared with the same period in 2007, a 22.09% drop. In the first 11 months of 2008, airport officials found that 506,833 fewer passengers boarded planes in Burbank than during the equivalent amount of time the previous year.

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A down month in November for all commercial carriers at Bob Hope partly accounted for the 22% drop in passengers, according to the report. Burbank’s most populous air carrier, Southwest Airlines, was down by more than 51,000 passengers, while activity at United Airlines and its sister carrier, Sky West, fell 68.7%.

“People are just traveling less,” airport Executive Director Dan Feger said.

Holiday travel was also down from last year. On Christmas Day, there were 16.6% fewer passengers, and on New Year’s Eve, the airport recorded a 10.3% drop in travelers compared with 2007. Overall holiday travel was down 13.8% from the previous year, according to the report.

When figures are tallied for all of 2008 the airport expects to find it drew in slightly more than five million passengers, which could represent a 10% fall from 2007, airport spokesman Victor Gill said.

“It’s a noticeable drop,” he said.

The low figure could reverse what has been a rising number of passengers each year at what is traditionally a profitable airport. In 2005, 5.2 million passengers passed through the gates, and in 2006, 5.5 million travelers flew out of Bob Hope.

“The market falloff began in spring and really took effect in summertime and the fall months,” Gill said. “Trends are likely to continue unless something miraculous happens. We are not likely to have a real quick breakout from this pattern.”

The passenger reports coincided Monday with a detailed list of the airport’s investment portfolio and projected income and expenses.

Joyce Streator, an airport commissioner from Pasadena and the authority’s treasurer, said sufficient funds will be available to meet the needs of the airport for the next six months.

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