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Friday, Feb 3, 2023
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The Number

Bob Hope Airport got a little good news last week when the joint powers authority that runs the Burbank airfield released another month of passenger traffic data showing growth. But look a little deeper and the statistics reinforce the airport’s status as a declining institution in Southern California aviation. Traffic was up a modest 1.3 percent in November to 325,515 passengers compared to the same month in 2013. It followed much heartier increases that topped 5 percent each for the prior two months, according to the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority. The year-to-date figures were less impressive, with the total at roughly 3.53 million passengers – not even 20,000 more than the first 11 months of 2013. And in case you were wondering, 2013 was actually a pretty good year at Bob Hope. It marked the first rise in passenger count since the Great Recession put a huge dent in air travel. But the airport has a long way to go to get back to its 2007 apex, when 5.92 million passengers passed through its terminal. By contrast, Los Angeles World Airports has already released its passenger traffic count for all of last year and it hit 70.7 million, setting a record and easily topping the prior peak of 67.3 million in 2000. Of course, it’s not a fair comparison. LAX is benefiting from a huge growth in international travel due to a rise in Los Angeles as a business and tourist destination. There also has been a trend for major airlines to increasingly focus their flights at large airports. But the diverging fortunes of the two airfields underscores the importance of Burbank solving its biggest and decades-old problem: finding a way to build a modern terminal amid continued opposition of nearby residents who like the situation just the way it is. – Laurence Darmiento

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