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Air fares up, passengers down at Bob Hope

With operating costs sharply higher, airlines reduce numbers of flights.

June 07, 2011|By Bill Kisiuk, bill.kisliuk@latimes.com
  • An airplane lands over W. Empire Avenue at the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank on Tuesday, April 25, 2011. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
An airplane lands over W. Empire Avenue at the Bob Hope…

The number of passengers using Bob Hope Airport dropped in April as high fuel prices spurred airlines to raise fares and reduce service to common destinations.

The number of commercial travelers arriving or departing from Burbank fell by 5.2% in April compared to the same period a year earlier, according to an airport report. It is the second consecutive month passenger figures dipped below projections.

Airlines have cut back on the number of flights into and out of the facility as they counter rising fuel prices by ensuring planes operate near seating capacity.

As a result, occupancy at Bob Hope grew by 4.7% to 70% of all available seats.

Aviation consultant Jack Penning said airlines have cut back on planes headed to destinations that receive frequent service, which for Burbank includes Bay Area airports and cities in the southwest.

“Burbank has seen its seats disproportionately cut, in a couple of instances, because it is a market that lives on high-frequency flying — where an airline will operate eight or 10 flights on a route in a day,” said Penning, who works with Sixel Consulting Group.

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With fuel costs 21% higher than they were last spring, Penning said airlines are expected to reduce the number of flights nationwide between 2% and 4% this year.

Other regional airports also saw fewer passengers in April.

Orange County’s John Wayne Airport reported a 3% drop in April, and Ontario Airport reported a 5% decline. At the same time, passenger traffic grew by 7% at Los Angeles International Airport.

Fewer passengers have meant depressed parking fees — an important source of income for the airport — which are 2% behind what they were last year, according to airport officials.

“This is reflective of having 5.2% fewer passengers pass through the airport,” Executive Director Dan Feger told Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority Monday.

The parking figures do not include a $1-per-car increase implemented in February to offset legal costs related to cleanup of toxic groundwater beneath former Lockheed Martin property now owned by the airport.

The airport authority agreed to pay Lockheed $2 million to settle litigation over cleanup costs, and so far, the parking fee increase has raised roughly $470,000.

Penning said Bob Hope Airport may see a boost in the summer, with United Airlines adding a daily flight to Denver this month and Southwest Airlines set to add two daily Denver trips in August.

 
 

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