John Wayne Airport Hopes for Smoother Skies Ahead as it Reports Plunging Traffic

John Wayne Airport Hopes for Smoother Skies Ahead as it Reports Plunging Traffic
A Southwest Airlines jet lands at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif., on Oct. 18, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Jack Bradley

Passenger traffic at John Wayne Airport plunged nearly 65 percent last year, but despite the pandemic-induced turbulence, the flight hub managed to retain all its employees.

“John Wayne Airport is focusing on our budget and making cuts as necessary as our passenger numbers continue to remain low,” airport spokesperson Tricia Landquist told The Epoch Times Jan. 21. “All airport revenues… are down. However, no John Wayne Airport employees are being furloughed or laid off.”

The airport in 2019 reported a total of about 10.7 million passengers, compared with about 3.8 million passengers last year. It added up to a 64 percent decrease in travelers.

December was no exception to the year’s downward trend. Year-over-year passenger traffic last month decreased by about 74 percent, the airport said.

The plunge in passengers has hindered the airport’s revenue sources in all areas. It has lost money on everything from tickets, parking fees and concessions, to ground transportation and rental cars.

In a move to adapt to the ongoing pandemic, the airport on Jan. 18 announced it had partnered with Hoag Hospitals to offer rapid COVID-19 testing.

“(The partnership) aligns with our priorities to provide enhanced safety and a level of care not previously available to Orange County travelers,” Landquist said. “We are excited by what the rapid testing clinic will mean to our guests as we welcome them back to a cleaner, safer, and more secure environment.”

As well as COVID testing, the airport will provide urgent care services this year.

The most affected area of ridership during the pandemic has been international flights. The airport experienced a 90 percent decrease in international air travel in 2020.

Said Landquist: “While it is difficult to forecast how passenger volume will look like for 2021, we remain hopeful that it steadily increases.”