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econowatch/dy/11″/mike1st/mark2nd After years of steady growth, passenger traffic at Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport has developed a slight down-draft in recent months. But air cargo volume continues to soar, according to this month’s Econowatch. Some 398,768 passengers flew into and out of Burbank Airport in March, down nearly 4.5 percent from the 417,260 that used the airport in March 1996, according to the Airport Authority. The drop in March traffic marked the 11th consecutive month that passenger volume was off from the year-ago period. Prior to that, passenger traffic had been growing steadily on a year-to-year basis. (The fact that March passenger volume was 15 percent above the February volume is not considered relevant because passenger volume is highly seasonal.) Airport Authority spokesman Victor Gill said some of the drop in traffic may owe to United Airlines’ decision in January 1996 to stop flying its Oakland shuttle out of Burbank. Another factor is the uncertain status of a planned new terminal at the airport, said Gill. The Airport Authority would like to build a facility on land adjacent to the existing terminal, a move the City of Burbank opposes and is trying to stop through legal action. “Most of the airlines are currently in a status-quo mode. I think there’s an element of wait-and-see,” Gill said. “(The airlines) don’t want to make an investment in a market where the attitude is somewhat in doubt.” Gill added that passenger volume will suffer another minor blow this month, when SkyWest discontinues its non-stop service from Burbank to Salt Lake City. That route accounts for 5,000 passengers per month. While passenger traffic is in a down-draft, air cargo volume at Burbank has continued to grow by a healthy margin over each of the last several months. The total air cargo volume for March stood at 6.6 million pounds, up 5.4 percent over the like period a year earlier. Much of the recent rise in cargo volume is due to increased usage by a single customer the United States Postal Service. The volume of U.S. mail at Burbank stood at 625,903 pounds in March, up 131.9 percent from the 269,941 pounds entering and leaving the airport in the like month a year earlier. Gill said the rapid growth in mail volume is part of a test program begun by the Postal Service a few years ago. Under the program, use of Burbank airport has allowed the Postal Service to accept overnight delivery packages later in the day for Valley customers than in the past, he said. “The Post Office historically has not used Burbank as a shipping point, but they’re trying it out now,” Gill said. Douglas Young

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