Ontario International Airport (ONT) began 2021 just as it closed out 2020, with a double-digit increase in commercial freight volume while the COVID-19 pandemic continued to depress passenger numbers.

January freight volume totaled more than 70,500 tons, a 15.6% increase compared to the same month last year and extending a trend of robust cargo shipments as Southern Californians continued to rely heavily on e-commerce to keep their households and businesses supplied. At the same time, shipments of mail more than doubled year-over-year to 3,225 tons.

“Cargo continued to be a source of strength in January like it was for all of 2020,” said Mark Thorpe, chief executive officer of the Ontario International Airport Authority. “Freight shippers continued to show great confidence in our ability to provide the infrastructure and facilities they needed to meet increasing demands on the e-commerce supply chain.”

January’s cargo volume continued a trend of double-digit growth at ONT, a leading North American carbo hub which saw freight tonnage increase by 10% or more in 10 different months last year.

In November, FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. completed a $100 million investment in its ONT facilities, the centerpiece of which is a 251,000 square-foot complex with a sorting facility capable of handling 12,000 packages per hour, nine wide-body aircraft gates, 14 feeder aircraft gates and 18 truck docks.

Air cargo
(tonnage)
January
2021
January
2020
Change
Freight
70,547
61,027
15.60%
Mail
3,225
1,587
103.23%
Total
73,772
62,614
17.82%


Meanwhile, passenger volume continued to be impacted by the pandemic as nearly 152,000 air travelers moved through ONT in January, 66% less than January 2020. More than 145,000 were domestic passengers and 6,475 were international fliers, decreases of 65% and 79%, respectively.

Thorpe expressed a note of optimism for higher passenger traffic this year, pointing out that airlines operating at ONT have announced plans to restart or initiate new flights to nine U.S. destinations by May while Colombia-based Avianca Airlines will begin service to El Salvador this summer. The Avianca route will be the first to Central America from the Inland Empire.

Passenger
Totals
January
2021
January
2020
Change
Domestic
145,385
423,643
-65.68%
International
6,475
30,896
-79.04%
Total
151,860
454,539
-66.59%