Traffic at John Wayne dips
For the first year since 2001, the airport has a drop in travel.
By MARY ANN MILBOURN
The Orange County Register
Despite a strong holiday season, John Wayne Airport saw its passenger traffic edge down 0.1 percent in 2006 – the first drop since 2001, when travel was affected by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Last month, the airport recorded the biggest December for travel in the past 10 years with 811,394 passengers, a 5.6 percent increase.
But the holidays could not make up for the rest of the year, which had a decline in passengers in seven of the 12 months. Total passenger traffic for the year dipped 13,692 to 9.61 million.
General aviation operations by private planes and jets dropped 1.6 percent last year and air-cargo tonnage was off 0.7 percent.
John Wayne officials said they didn't have an explanation for the drop-off.
Jack Kyser, chief economist at the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp., said the decline is something of a mystery because Southern California tourism was up and hotels were booming.
He attributed part of the decline on airlines reducing the number of domestic flights to concentrate on higher-fare foreign services.
"I also think a lot of people are just choosing to drive rather than put up with the hassle of flying," Kyser said.
Final year-end figures for other airports in the region have not been released.
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