Palm Springs International Airport continues to experience a strong rebound in air travel and recorded its best month in April since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 215,700 travelers passed through the airport last month, more than 20 times – or 2,000% – the number of April of last year, the worst month of the pandemic for local air transport.
Despite the increase, air traffic figures in April were still down almost 30% from 2019 levels.
Official figures for May have yet to be released, although airport officials have said the uptrend is on track to continue this month. Traffic is currently at 88% of May 2019 levels, according to Daniel Meier, deputy director of marketing and aviation air service. Several days have already surpassed pre-pandemic levels.
Meier attributed the continued increase in traffic to a number of factors, including the increase in year-round flights to PSP, an increase in demand for leisure travel and an increasing willingness of Americans to travel.
New Southwest Airlines route:Palm Springs in Las Vegas begins
“As the vaccines are rolled out, people feel more comfortable flying,” Meier said. “There is a lot of pent-up demand.”
Meier said many airports across the country are seeing similar growth in traffic, although the gains are skewed in favor of leisure travel markets like Palm Springs.
“A lot of airlines say that recreation (travel) is already back,” he said.
“What is not back and that hurts is the business travel market,” Meier added. “We’re not really a business (travel) market.”
According to Meier, the increasing number of air links to PSP throughout the year also helps to increase passenger traffic.
Southwest Airlines, which first service added to PSP in November, launched daily flights to Las Vegas this month. Delta Airlines also recently extended its seasonal Seattle route to a once-a-day, year-round round-trip flight.
The addition of Southwest Airlines service, along with increased flights from Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines, will give PSP about 100 more flights in June than the airport had in the same month of 2019.
“We are in fact the only airport in Southern California to operate (May and June)
for available seats, ”he said.
Officials are optimistic the uptrend will continue for the rest of this year, according to Meier. He added that he was “cautiously optimistic” that some months this year will exceed 2019 levels.
These predictions could be supported by the return of major events to the Coachella Valley after a one-year hiatus from the pandemic, which could help boost travel through PSP. Modernism Week, held April 8-18 in Palm Springs, drew about 14,000 attendees, organizers said.
James B. Cutchin covers business in the Coachella Valley. Contact him at [email protected]