Sonoma County airport figures for September mostly stable from August

It’s too early to know how Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport will finish 2021 in terms of total passenger volume after a dismal 2020, but one market has recovered nicely — and it’s about to be suspended.

American Airlines will pause its Dallas flight at the Santa Rosa facility starting tomorrow — with a return date slated for Feb. 17 — as part of its annual seasonal break. Airport Manager Jon Stout described that as “disappointing” because demand for the route hasn’t let up since summer.

That will soon be addressed.

“We are working on a meeting with all of our airline partners over the next two months to do a check-in with them for next year's activities and see what they’re thinking,” Stout said. “And we will be pushing to have American keep Dallas year-round.”

Looking at overall passenger volume for September, the four commercial carriers servicing the airport — Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Avelo Airlines and United Airlines — collectively flew 49,951 passengers through the Sonoma County facility, up 190.7% from a year earlier, according to the airport’s latest figures. In August, the Santa Rosa airport handled 45,086 commercial airline passengers.

The travel industry last year was impacted deeply by pandemic restrictions and consumer hesitancy to fly. There has been recovery this year, though not back to pre-pandemic levels.

United Airlines for the month flew 2,556 passengers, up 220.7% from September 2020. Its load factor — the measure of how full airplanes are on average — was 85%.

United, which was set to resume service to the Denver market on Feb. 11, has pushed the date to March 27, Stout said. A reason was not given.

Alaska Airlines, the regional facility’s largest commercial carrier, flew 32,762 passengers in September, up 175.8% from a year earlier. The airline’s load factor was 70%, compared with 45% in September 2020.

The more than 4,600 month over month increase in passengers reflects the airline having added more flights in September to Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and Seattle, Stout said. Alaska also entered the Burbank market in early September.

American in September flew 7,938 passengers through the Santa Rosa airport, up 76% from the year prior. The carrier’s load factor was 85%, up from 52% in September 2020. The impact of the loss of the Dallas flight will be seen in the airport’s December figures.

Burbank-based Avelo Airlines, which on Sept. 16 added service to Las Vegas in addition to its Burbank route, flew 6,695 passengers in September, with a load factor of 63%.

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