Union Tribune

March 13, 2002

DOMESTIC IMPACTS 
L.A. airport traffic down 22.5 percent
Drop was second largest among hubs since Sept. 11

By TOBY ECKERT 
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE 

WASHINGTON Los Angeles International Airport sustained
the second-biggest drop in commercial traffic among the
nation's busiest airports in the five months after the Sept. 11
attacks, the Federal Aviation Administration reported
yesterday. 

The 22.5 percent drop at LAX trailed only the whopping 58
percent decrease at Ronald Reagan Washington National
Airport, which was shuttered far longer after the attacks than
other airports because of its proximity to potential terrorist
targets in the nation's capital.

San Diego's Lindbergh Field experienced a 13.2 percent drop,
according to the statistics.

Overall, commercial air traffic at the nation's 31 hub airports
declined 11.3 percent from October 2001 to February 2002,
compared with the same months the year before, according to
the FAA.

The agency forecast a 12 percent drop in passenger demand
nationwide for the entire federal fiscal year, which started Oct. 1, 2001, and ends Sept. 30.

Airline traffic is not expected to rebound until fiscal year 2003,
when the FAA is projecting a 14 percent increase. The agency
forecast an average annual growth rate of 4 percent from 2004
to 2013, when the number of passengers is expected to hit 1
billion.

FAA Administrator Jane Garvey accentuated the more positive
numbers at an aviation conference here where the agency's
forecast was released.

"Regardless of the short-term decline in air traffic, our forecast
underscores the need for the government and the aviation
industry to continue adding capacity to our system to meet the
demand that will return and grow," she said.

However, the forecast makes several assumptions, including an
absence of more terrorist attacks, continued improvement in
the economy and stable fuel prices.

The Air Transport Association, which represents airlines,
released a report Monday predicting that industry losses would
surpass $7 billion for 2001, even with the billions of dollars in
federal grants approved by Congress after Sept. 11.

More losses are expected through 2002, and "at best" the
industry will see a profitable quarter in late 2003, the group
said.

After LAX, the airports seeing the biggest drops in commercial
passenger traffic in the past five months were LaGuardia and
John F. Kennedy in New York, each down 21 percent;
Seattle/Tacoma, Orlando and Boston, all down about 20
percent; and San Francisco, down 17.5 percent.

At the nation's two busiest airports, Atlanta and Chicago O'Hare, traffic was down 6.1 percent and 6.7 percent, respectively.

Some airports bucked the trend. Salt Lake City, which held the
Winter Olympics, saw traffic grow 10.4 percent. Minneapolis/St.
Paul had a 4.2 percent increase.

FAA spokesman William Shumann said the agency didn't "have
definitive answers" for why the impact varied so much across the
nation. But he said one factor at LAX and other coastal airports
was the large number of international flights they handle.

International traffic declined more after Sept. 11 than domestic
air travel.